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The /newstuff Chronicles #418

  • Logitech Wingman Warrior external driver - Logitech; uploaded by Simon Howard (fraggle)
    Doom/Doom 2 - Vanilla - N/A - 258579 bytes
    Reviewed by: Bloodshedder
    The latest in a number of historic vanilla Doom-related uploads from fraggle, this upload would allow you to play Doom with your Logitech Wingman Warrior joystick, if you were to still have one after so long. Extracted from a set of drivers provided by Logitech, it uses Doom's external control API to hook into the game and send movement events.

  • Deimos Carnage - NoneeLlama
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Deathmatch - 282451 bytes -
    Reviewed by: MajorRawne
    A deathmatch map built in the style of a Shores of Hell map, but comes across more as an homage to those 1994 that the Phantom Wad Uploaders love so much. (Seriously, are any of these uploaders active on the Doomworld forums?)

    As you'd expect there are clashing textures, the blue-circle-lights that everyone seems to use as a damaging floor, an obnoxious crusher trap above the BFG. There are plenty of wide open spaces to run through, which would keep the gameplay flowing, and there's only one room I can think of where the player can get trapped without a second way out.

    It's rather surprising to see a map that looks like this being built in 2012, but nostalgia hunters might like to give it a try.

  • Titan 1024 - Ixnatifual (Jesper Krag Rasmussen)
    Doom 2 - GZDoom - Solo Play - 6461977 bytes -
    Reviewed by: MajorRawne
    Greetings, fellow Doomers! If I might say, what smashing blouses you're all wearing. Here we have a 10-map level set which is variously described as "crap", "mediocre", "great" and "fantastic" by self-appointed experts in the archive. Seriously, if a map is "great" does that mean its ceiling height is 10,000 and it's made up of a million sectors, or was it designed by Jesus? Does anyone else hate the fatuous use of the word "great"? It's supposed to refer to something or someone so epic they are practically majestic, and now it's used to describe Doom maps and the taste of American breakfast cereals.

    Anyway, onto the opinion of another self-appointed "expert". And if you read any of my old reviews and are waiting for immature fart jokes or Tanith curse-words, I've grown up. So I won't say "fethpoop".

    Titan 1024 gets off to a good start with a little intro animation. Your menu cursor is replaced with the severed bunny-head that super-obsessed Doomers talk about with weird, over-enthusiastic glowing in their eyes and bulging in their boxers. [Ed: Actually, this is just a GZDoom thing.] I may not be the "greatest" player in Doomdom, but I fired this up on UV. Screw you, reality, I'm the Doom Daddy for the next half an hour. All maps were played from pistol starts.

    Map 01, Storage Compartments - It is often a point of wonderment where people get the exciting names for their first maps in a level set. I recommend mouselook for this, as there are enemies directly above your start point and you won't be able to return fire at first. I love the new sky texture, and so will all the other mappers who inevitably nick it for use in their own projects. I loved the wall-mounted camera display. Why don't we see more of this stuff in Doom? For a small map, this is quite hard. It's a pistol map in cramped quarters, which makes the play feel unusually intimate, drawing you further in than a simple run and gun.

    Map 02, Command Tower - Another base map, as small and cramped as you'd expect from a 1024, with a step up in difficulty. I'd rate mouselook as essential here. There is a very cleverly-judged trap towards the end where you think you know what's coming, but the reality scared the crap out of me. Unusually, I finished the map with 100% everything, which shows how much I liked this one. I'd rate one of the secrets as essential, though.

    Map 03, Mining Operation - At first reminiscent of the PC version of Spawning Vats, I took the inevitable step down to HMP here. You can stuff it if you think I'm fighting a Hell Knight at close quarters with a pistol and an empty shotgun, pride be damned!

    Map 04, Research Lab - Anyone who thinks Hell Knights are nancy-boy Hell Baron wannabes should have a go at this map. You'll get to go toe to toe with them in a chaingun cha-cha. I found this map a bit too cramped with that in mind, and was starting to get a bit claustrophobic. There are some wider spaces on this map, but Mancs live in them so you won't get cosy. I was tiring of the cramped quarters by this point, but hey ho, at least it's not an entire megawad.

    Map 05, Belly of the Beast - the ominously-titled map gives you an even more ominous rocket launcher at the start. The music is one of my favourite Ultimate Doom tracks. The music changes when this map plays a nasty trick on you. If you win, which to be frank not everyone will, you finish the episode: hooray! Someone actually bothered to replace the episode text!

    Map 06, Healer's Cavern - An unusual and thought-provoking title for a Doom map. Things take a hellish turn here. The map is not large, like those before it, but it packs a serious wallop in both difficulty and visual appeal. This is the first appearance of the plasma gun. You're going to need it.

    Map 07, Theatre of Pain - A close quarters fight against Cacodemons, Knights and Arachnotrons. I was sniped by Chaingunners high up on darkened ledges, something which seems to happen with pissing-off frequence. You can fall through the window in the start room, which is annoying and oh, by the way, deadly, especially when you did it over a 1% health bonus. A "new" monster from the Bestiary which I haven't fought before makes an appearance. Hooray, this wasn't your typical Arachno/Manc fight, although both monsters are present.

    Map 08, Pit of Peril - Many ideas from the previous maps appear yet again here. You move from room to room, clearing out waves of monsters so that the next section can open itself up. I felt the traps with monsters beaming in or simply appearing next to the player were cheap. However, the map was dark and sinister, which appeals on a primal level.

    Map 09, Nexus - An exciting battle where you're trapped in a room and waves of monsters attack. An interesting feature is monster-only areas which you can't see into but you can shoot at. Reminds me of the Commodore 16 days when it was common for monsters to attack from "bases" or areas you couldn't access (Pacman, Tutti Frutti and Rockman being examples).

    Map 10, Hidden Complex - A base map which resembles map 02 in appearance. This is based around teleporters whose every sidedef takes you to a different location. I was tired by the time I got here, but I hate teleporter puzzles at the best of times so meh.

    Overall: The early maps are similar to each other in style with darkened rooms and close quarter fighting against minions backed up by Hell Knights. Once you've played map 06, you've seen all the variation in style that this wad offers. Levels are tight with zero wasted space in any of the rooms. There is far more attention to detail than I expected from a crap/mediocre/"great"/fantastic mapset, and the difficulty level should make this challenging to most players on their first runthrough. However, the self-imposed 1024 limit makes for a set of cramped and somewhat predictable maps, especially since the author recycles the same ideas alongside the new stuff.

    Health pickups are at a premium on UV; bring your own medikit. This creates an intimate feel where you face enemies at close quarters with low ammo. You need to husband your resources. Who knew Doom had this intriguing side to it? I did, since I used to play a lot of co-op, but no-one cares about those vanished days of linked Playstations and split-screen Legacy so let's move on.

    The music is well-chosen to fit each map. It's clear the author drew at least some inspiration from the classic Doom maps - and that's the proper classic Doom maps, not the hit-and-miss hodgepodge from 1994 that the Phantom Wad Uploader [TM] sends to the Archives each week.

    The new sky textures are amazing. If you clip to the highest point of the maps the view is just, wow. Visually the maps are interesting and very detailed. This is enhanced by the choice of GZDoom, which looks more than fantastic - it looks "great".

    These maps need to be treated with respect by the player, and each area should be swept thoroughly. Wandering and reinforcing monsters reduce your sense of security by a considerable margin, so even doing a sweep and clear is not always effective. You are never safe.

  • 5till L1 Complex - Lainos
    Doom 2 - Limit Removing + OGG support - Solo Play - 4234547 bytes -
    Reviewed by: MajorRawne
    You need to listen to this while reading this review if you want the right atmosphere!

    "Dark, brooding, tense": three words that immediately spring to mind. How about "creepy, dark, beautiful"? Or "horrid old-school maze", linking to "lines don't show", which unfortunately describe one part of the environment. Back to the good stuff: "Mournful, lonely, quiet".

    The poetically-named 5till L1 Complex (how it rolls off the tongue!) has no story behind it, even though there has been a sustained amount of thought and effort put into the map. Including a story in the text file would have greatly enhanced my enjoyment, and it might even explain why the Doom Marine's bedroom has no ceiling. Perhaps he likes to see the stars at night. See, there's your romance, which will inevitably be re-written to star Ralphis and end up in Post Hell... maybe that's why there's no text file.

    This map is set in and around a country town that has become infested with demons. The map is much bigger than you'd expect and the town itself is very realistic - there's more to it than you see at the beginning.

    All of the weapon graphics have been replaced, although the weapons function normally. The sky is sinister, with a blood moon. There is a lot of dense terrain. This is used to good effect in places, hiding items, while in others it hampers your view. It's handy for blocking Revenant missiles travelling across the map.

    Comments in the archives indicate that less-powerful computers, including a laptop dating from 2006 (amazingly enough), suffer lag due to the terrain. So bear in mind, if you've got six-year-old, single-core laptops running 1GHz processors and graphics cards that are made from stone, you may not be able to run system-intensive, modern, source-port-requiring games. In fairness, if it's possible to be fair to such a remarkable criticism, this map lags badly in ZDoom on my beast of a computer... although not in GZDoom, which makes up for improved frame rate by being pitch black. This is the first level of any game I've played in a year that caused my framerate to drop.

    The "maze" I mentioned earlier is a chore due to your automap being useless in it. I'd rather stick my wangulum into a starving alsatian's kennel than navigate a maze in Doom. My maze resistance test was therefore taken with a -2 modifier. Other players may not be annoyed by this part and it doesn't last very long, so bear in mind this is purely a personal annoyance.

    I didn't find the difficulty to be that high in 5l1c.wad. It mostly came from long-ranged Revenants and Spectres that you can't see in the dense terrain. Some comments in the archive suggest people ran out of ammo, so keep an eye on your counter. There doesn't seem to be a lot of health, so watch that too.

    The music is creepy and suits the map perfectly. For some reason the quiet town - this is when you actually get in there, not run around a few buildings at the beginning - is the scariest part of the map. It just feels dead, yet it's attractive, and the conflict this generates within the player is intriguing. The music really helps.

    Worth a go if your computer can handle it!

  • El Furia! (dIrE fIrE) - Richard Smith Long
    Doom/Doom 2 - GZDoom - N/A - 11177139 bytes
    Reviewed by: MajorRawne
    This is a weapon and monster replacement file. The new weapons are a submachinegun, revolver, knife, hand grenades and some kind of weird fireball launcher that doubles as a heavy body suit. The new weapons are immensely satisfying to wield apart from the knife, which your character wields as if his arms are paralysed and is slower but more powerful than the fist. The fireball launcher slows you down, limiting its usefulness despite its power. Zombies hit by the fireballs burn up and scream disturbingly while they do. I think one of the screams is an un-reversed crabhead man from Half-Life 2, and that really is a horrible sound.

    As for the monsters, the only ones I spotted are black Satyrs who throw weaving grey balls at you, and evil Marines who carry pistols and submachine guns.

    There are no new levels. The new graphics aren't worth taking screenies of; they fit the game well, but we've seen it all before. An interesting diversion, but it won't make you want to play through the whole of Doom 2 again.

  • 2002 A Doom Odyssey - 10th Anniversary Edition - Various
    Ultimate Doom - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 4433663 bytes -
    Reviewed by: MajorRawne
    I've never played ADO before, so cannot empathise with those who were irate about another re-release of this megawad. I do wonder why it has needed so many updates though. As far as I know, Alien Vendetta (yeah I'm on about AV again) got one, and some of the other classics didn't have any. Obviously someone cares very deeply about their work!

    The problem is, as these Doomers state, ADO keeps being tweaked and uploaded, where the original product was fine for them. The comments in the /idgames database make interesting reading. The tweaks in this re-release mean new maps, new music, presumably some fixes, plus the moving of E3M5 to E4M9 for some reason. This 10th Anniversary Edition took 8 months of work, impressive for a project that's already so old.

    Some of the maps in this megawad are really looking their age. The difference between this megawad and old maps I have trashed is that ADO plays really well. It doesn't just capture the look of older maps, it captures the flow, the pace, the excitement of Ultimate Doom - something most of id's levels had in abundance. They're heavily inspired by the original maps, not just in visual terms, but in the way map sections interconnect and open up. I can cope with bare rooms and empty views if the maps play well. After all, most people play Doom to play Doom, and any sightseeing is a welcome extra.

    Episode 1 is fast and furious which will bring your old Dooming instincts out of retirement. Episode 2 is the one with the crate rooms. This was always the so-so episode for me, more complex and less visually engaging (despite higher detail) with a semi-industrial feel, and I can't shake that feeling here as the tribute aspect is so on-target.

    Things change by the time you get to episode 3. Hell-themed maps are a personal favourite. You still get the blitzing action of the earlier maps with more detailed, better-looking environments. Individual Hell Barons are put to good use, and they are terrifying in E3M8 if you choose to run rather than fight. Really bring back memories! Episode 4 has a more modern feel with a couple of maps seeming relatively new, albeit visually toned down to keep an oldschool feel. Visually, E4M9 is the standout of perhaps the entire megawad, taking place outside a tomb in an overblown graveyard.

    It's not hard to miss maps that pay tribute to the originals. (For example, three guesses what happens at the end of E1M8, and there's a Tower of Babel map.) It's good to see some genuine originality as well. Overall, 2002: A Doom Odyssey will please fans of the originals and nostalgia hunters, and it might just remind jaded veterans what Doom is all about.

    See, I don't hate old wads.

  • Nitro's Chex Quest - Cory Scott (Nitroactive Studios)
    Chex Quest - Vanilla - Solo Play - 323364 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Gez
    It's not every day that we see an episode replacement for the original Chex Quest. The short length of Chex Quest's episodes (five levels), combined with the rather small size and low difficulty of the typical level, means that you can go through one in less than a half-hour.

    Nitro's Chex Quest is no different in these respects. The levels are easy and provide no real challenge, even on the UV-equivalent skill, except for the very beginning as you run out of ammo with your basic weapon against a herd of demon replacement, and in the last map when running for a key in large caves filled with slime while monsters are blocking your way to make your protective suit run out. Secrets are generally easy to find and generous in ammo, armor, or health. The level design is simple and seems inspired by Wolfenstein 3D mapping practices sometimes, with architectural figures like the Concentric Redundant Corridors, or the Square Spiral of Pointlessness, and differences in elevation are sadly underused. The geometric complexity was left to create semi-realistic structures such as desks, tables, and toilets. Entering a classroom and finding a bunch of flemoids all ignoring you as they apparently concentrate on some science lesson from their professor (until you zap them all away) seemed to invert the narrative, by making you the violent invader and them the legitimate occupiers of the buildings.

    It might be regretted that this add-on wasn't made for Chex Quest 3. The increased variety of enemies, textures, and decorative items could have helped make the levels a bit more interesting to go through. In any case, it's not terrible, but if you are not a Chex Quest fan (or looking for a short mod that looks like it can be reviewed quickly), you have no real reason to check it out.

  • Toxic Darkness 2 - Henri Lehto
    Doom 2 - GZDoom - Solo Play - 5216797 bytes -
    Reviewed by: MajorRawne
    On the one hand we have nutters uploading ancient wads that should, in some cases, be left forgotten. On the other hand we have mad, modern-day geniuses who brings us maps whose thoughtfulness and atmosphere blow you away.

    Unfortunately, genius has its price. While Toxic Dark 2 is downright amazing to look at in places, I got sick of the view as I ran around trying to figure out what to do next. You need to look everywhere and make sure you don't miss a single switch, or a series of small platforms leading upwards, or... well that's it actually, just make sure you invoke the power of ten eagles or your puny human eyesight may be your downfall. At least the 1994 maps are usually clear about where to go next, even the shitty "maze" ones.

    Most times when you hit a switch you get a split-second view of a door opening to another part of the map. Sometimes it's obvious where this door is, sometimes not so much. You need to be awake to see these.

    I almost couldn't complete the map since I ragequit over the stupid red key. This brought back memories of the first time I played The Citadel... and I still don't know how I ever beat THAT nightmare from hell. It finally turns out that I didn't hop over a specific part of a railing, the railings which prevent your movement throughout the rest of the map. Silly me!

    I love the use of ZDoom-only features. This is something we don't see enough. There is a good use of slopes and plenty of raised walkways which you'll be fighting under and over. The map's theme holds together without a flaw. However, the walkways have railings which constrict your movement - not very handy when you've got to head down a long catwalk towards an Arachnotron. The revolving sky will be off-putting to some but came across as an interesting and unusual feature. The use of light and shadow is well thought out. There are also cameras (which I didn't feel are clearly marked, I just randomly clicked a computer display on a wall) showing you different parts of the map. This map must have been a nightmare to put together.

    So, excellent visuals, mind-bending attention to detail, plus music from the ever-awesome Aubrey Hodges, whose PSX music makes the original Doom 2 soundtrack seem laughable in comparison (sorry to tread on PC players' toes over this, but come on). The downside: frustrating gameplay which can leave you stuck and bored, which is the worst possible thing for a Doom level to do.

  • Expired License - TimeOfDeath (Chris Balch)
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 418974 bytes -
    Reviewed by: MajorRawne
    This is another one of those wads that features a seemingly endless number of levels, all or most of which are variants of one another. You can choose which monsters to fight and you then fight the same monsters over and over in a small, crap-looking arena. It reminds me of playing any Halo after the first where you are basically doing the same thing each time with severe restrictions on where you can go and what you can do but WOW IT'S A DIFFERENT GAME!!!!!!11one

    When you kill the monsters you hit a switch which loads the same or nearly identical map with more monsters and a different weapon. Er, this is something I'd have expected to see in 1994. We know how to fight all the Doom 2 monsters and we know how to use the weapons. Maybe the intent was to lure people away from their Call of Battlefields 4: The Reach too Far. Or maybe it was to waste everybody's time. Who knows, and to be frank, who cares. Next!

  • Entombed - XutaWoo
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 232477 bytes
    Reviewed by: MajorRawne
    I recently made a bet with a friend that I, over a period of one month, could sit through the second season of Star Trek Enterprise without crying bile. When I lost the bet after Captain Archer got taken prisoner for the fiftieth bloody time, I decided to play some Doom instead. But not just any Doom. Oh no, that's for ordinary people like you lot. Did I say that out loud? Sorry, I meant... er...

    Anyway, I require a Doom map like ENTOMBED to hold my attention. No more shooting through tech bases that turn into hell, no more scientists whose high IQs and years at university somehow lead them to believe uncontrollable killing machines from hell would make a handy bio-weapon.

    Entombed does something different entirely: It gives you two weapons, the odd combination of a rocket launcher and a BFG, then it sticks you in a dark corridor filled with Imps and Hell Knights. The aim is to run around in the dark looking for ways to get the blue key, then find you're trapped in the blue key area because a) you couldn't find a practically invisible switch which is on a walkway far above the blue key area and b) you can't get out of the blue key area to get back to the switch because one of the ledges is slightly too high.

    There is an optional area with tons of extra rockets. It's guarded by a Cyberdemon you probably won't be able to kill. The area guarded by said Cyberdemon is a dead end, so have fun getting caught in rocket blasts. Oh and there's hardly any health. And when you leg it past crowds of monsters, they follow you and congregate at the bottom of steep staircases. Happy rocket launching!

    Maybe I'm playing this all wrong, maybe I missed something stupidly obvious to someone with more patience, maybe I should stick to maps where "You are enjoying your retirement - never mind the fact that you died, went to hell, saw some shit that would turn people white and gibbed ten thousand demons in an orgy of violence - when suddenly the Army wants to send you back". Any review where the reviewer is talking random crap rather than actually doing a review is not a brilliant sign, I'm afraid.

    This is one for specialty seekers only. Oh and there are no screenies because it's pretty much pitch black and bare walls; I'm sure you can picture that in your head without using Doomworld's bandwidth.

  • Odamex Nitro Deathmatch - Various
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Deathmatch - 732058 bytes -
    Reviewed by: MajorRawne
    A series of small and fast-paced Deathmatch maps designed for 12+ players. The maps generally flow well and are attractive for the most part. My apologies for any maps I don't mention.

    Map 7 may be an acquired taste with its eclectic mix of textures, and it has a pacey but somehow unaggressive midi - not sure how well this works with 12 people all screaming and killing one another, but I suppose such a weird map needs weird music if it's going to discombobulate! (One of the later maps also takes this approach. Both maps seem to make it work.) There's a ceiling texture where the sky should be at the start of map 9, and the grey walls are, well, let's say it doesn't follow on well from the good-looking map 8. Map 10 is short but particulary violent. There is a lot of nukage on map 11 which is possibly not ideal for a DM map, this one is more subjective I suppose.

    The music for maps 12 and 13 is awesome.

    Maps 14-16 all remind me of the original Doom 2 maps, which I gather is the intent. Map 17 features lots of annoying crushers which leave you stranded for valuable seconds and break up the flow of play; it will be interesting to see how this works with 12 people playing.

    Finally, Nebula Shrine (the last map) stands out for looking pretty, having a lovely piece of music playing - see the comments for map 7. The almost romantic feel of the starry sky and the music would in this case contrast well with manic slaughter; this is hard to pull off properly, but it works here.

    This megawad was intended for the Odamex DM group but would probably be of some interest to anyone who is looking for some genuinely original maps. Some haunting music, some good looking maps, have a blast!

  • Angry Sympathiser - RV-007
    Doom/Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 145382 bytes -
    Reviewed by: sgt dopey
    Angry sympathizer is a mod that adds a human that stands up for the demons yelling at you to stop shooting them and will try and take your weapons away from you. It gets old and annoying fast, and this is an edit of this.

    I wouldn't be in a hurry to recommend this wad to anyone.

  • Community Chest 4 - Various (see Credits)
    Doom 2 - Boom Compatible w/ SEGS limit increase - Solo Play - 24605251 bytes -
    Reviewed by: MajorRawne
    I've done a lot of bashing of ancient maps (note to avoid a flamewar: I don't mean ALL old maps are bad, I just think SOME of those being submitted are). The fact that they're old makes me ask whether there is any value in uploading ones that don't offer a good SP, Co-Op or DM experience when there are plenty of modern maps flying about. So if you're incensed by my other reviews, please understand I'm not trying to start a flame war over this, and I respect the opinions of people who appreciate those maps which I find unlovable.

    So let's hopefully redeem myself with this epic.

    As someone who takes a sidestep to the drama on Doomworld's forums, it's easy to miss major projects. For example... well I don't know any examples, I bloody missed them didn't I? Yet even lurkers know about the Community Chest projects.

    The first Community Chest megawad was released around 10 years ago. Most megawads seem to divide opinions, and CChest was no exception. Skip ahead to 2012 and our Dooming skills are being lambasted by the fourth megawad in the (hopefully) ongoing CChest series.

    It's a shame some megawads don't get the time or respect they deserve in these reviews. Megawads are too long for someone to review each map thoroughly and people only end up mentioning the same maps anyway. I wish I could give a project like this its real due.

    Anyway, CChest 4 is tough from the onset if played at Ultra Violence. Visually and stylistically it lends comparison more to Alien Vendetta than Hell Revealed or Requiem, and for difficulty it's kind of a beefed-up Requiem. The maps seem designed to play consecutively rather than taking each one from a pistol start.

    The opening maps are original in design with plenty of visual merit; however they play similarly since they use the same monsters and weapons, the curse of opening maps I suppose. They're well thought out for the most part and the authors lavished attention on the aesthetics.

    Map 01 bombards you with blocks of weaker enemies. Map 02 is much more interesting in design, with the stakes being raised every time you complete a section of the map and return to the start area. Map 03 has a well-designed room with a series of raised walkways, but I wasn't too keen on wandering blindly through the hills outside. Map 04 is fraught and dangerous, though the underground cave section may have you running in circles wondering about the effect of the switch you just hit.

    Map 05 is thematically the most interesting so far. It takes place inside a condemned base with interesting and thoughtful touches, including the transparent holographic computer displays, but it seems there are a hell of a lot of people and monsters wandering about for a decrepit building!

    Maps 06 and 07 are similar in that you assault a castle (map 06) and a base (map 07). Map 06 reminds me of some Alien Vendetta maps, while map 07 was either not designed for its slot or was built by someone capable of original thinking - the word "Dead" doesn't appear in its name, for instance. Good show! (It's called "Hoedown" if you wanted to know.) It felt a bit unfair to ride up a lift in map 07 and be gunned down by a chaingunner on the wall above me to my right, while I was being attacked across an entire 180 degree arc by everybody else. Chaingun snipers seem a constant annoyance in this megawad, at least on UV, so check those corners Hudson.

    Map 08 is an expansive and very detailed nukage base set in what appears to be a frozen hillside. It's very atmospheric; I haven't played many winter-themed wads, and despite its familiarity in style to other maps in the wad, this map does feel refreshing. There are icicles hanging in certain parts of the map. You can get a bit lost due to its open nature (a good thing, in many ways - it reminds you of the things that set the "shoot-em-up" Doom apart from the restrictive, shorter modern "shooters") and the crumbling condition of the base is well modeled.

    Map 09 is another hillside base as in maps 4 and 8. There is a non-linear feel, plenty of attractive things to look at, and some secrets that kind of lead from the exploration aspect. Map 10 is another map of Alien Vendetta quality for its attention to detail, and it plays really well, perhaps my favourite of the wad so far, as it bombards you with minion-level monsters rather than Barons and Revenants - these monsters do feature, you just don't get spammed with them teleporting in. It's more rewarding to kill loads of Imps and Zombies than bigger monsters.

    Map 11 is fairly original. It makes effective use of wide open spaces to make you feel like you've exited a base that leads into a series of caverns. As with some of the previous maps, map 11 does have an exploration theme to it. The music is mellow with a slightly haunting feel which suits the idea of being underground, discovering a strange new world.

    Map 12 uses mostly the larger and more powerful monsters such as Knights, Cacos, Mancs, Arachnos and Revenants. There's a fight among half-submerged ruins at the beginning where you can provoke some impressive infighting.

    Map 13 is a big, hellish place, kind of like a subverted temple or fort or something. You rush around this map to quietly intense music killing monsters that largely come from the medium to high end of the difficulty scale. Your objective is to hit skull-wall switches while dodging or killing the monsters. There's a surfeit of rockets and plasma here, which makes it easy to kill the boss monsters; I felt this map would have been better suited to having at least twice as many monsters, though some may disagree.

    Map 14 uses excellent shading techniques, and there are some very impressive views in the map. This contains one of the best easter eggs in a Doom map. Just idclipping around the map is a pleasure all of its own. I think you need to bring your own guns to this one though - a potential problem with some of these maps.

    Another nukage base awaits for those who reach map 15. This being CC4, the map is loaded with visual details. There is a very interesting fight across a nukage pit. Map 16 is a pure battle map; the gameplay is similar to map 13 with a smaller play area.

    In map 17, there are uses of blue and red textures which give areas of the map a bizarre and extremely distinctive appearance. Once again it's a base built into a cave - I don't know what the design brief for CC4 was, but it may have been something like "if there isn't a cave, or a base, or both, we'll kick you in the nuts until you sing like that choirboy who did Walking in the Air". The cave section of map 17 is extremely well-detailed and the blue area in particular is shaded very well.

    Map 18 is a city with the trademark lava canyon cutting you off from the latter part of the map. It plays engagingly and it's good-looking. Map 19 starts with a brutal engagement which you start by shooting a switch to release you from your starting area. Unfortunately you're surrounded by enemies and don't get any guns. This would be interesting to see beaten on UV -fast.

    We get a story and a mission objective in map 20! You're on a space station or spaceship whose AI has gone berserk. You get lots of nice space vistas through the window with the station hanging in the void. No effort has been spared here. The music is jolly and fast-paced. Monsters can shoot through the force fields in some windows - one window near the beginning doesn't have a force field for some reason, probably to allow you a view outside. There are tons of eye-candy details here. Map 21 follows on and features colours we don't usually see in Doom, such as electric purple lights on walls that scroll vertically. Once again there is mammoth detail and a bright, sci-fi tune to enjoy.

    It's back to dark and gritty tunnel-fighting for map 22. I really liked the music for this map. It reminded me of Plutonia due to the combination of texture and colour, although there wasn't any Revenant spam (thank God). Map 23 is (mostly) an outdoors map with large areas to manoeuvre. Chaingunners and Hell Knights feature in a map that once again reminds me of Plutonia maps at some points.

    The start area of map 24 is perhaps the most impressive outdoor area of the megawad so far. Not only does it use the combination of red sky and blacked-out terrain that worked to such sinister effect in Alien Vendetta, it also uses a track that was also used in AV... is it any wonder there are so many references to AV in this review? There are some details that go way beyond what we'd normally see, including a damaged roof with visible reinforcing struts. It's pretty much up there with the best-looking outdoor areas. Inside, the base is in a state of ruin which is superbly modelled.

    Map 25 uses music that goes beyond creepy and builds such suspense; if the map were slightly darker in places, we would have had a real frightener here. There's a nod to the House of Pain in this map, plus a rewarding secret near the beginning. I was reminded throughout of the PSX version of E2M5, not quite sure why, perhaps due to the restrained (spartan is not the word for anything about this megawad) visuals. Save some of that plasma - there's a Cyberdemon blocking the way that you need to fight, and you will also need a rapid-firing gun after that!

    Map 26 is a highly atmospheric journey through a corrupt cathedral. Maps 25 and 26 could have swapped music. The lighting, the consistency of the theme, everything is spot on. There's a wide outdoor area to contrast the shadowy interior.

    There's a section of map 27 that makes the start of AV's Firewalk With Me (AV map 29) look like Santa's Grotto. It's another map that can only be described as stunning; CChest 4 really raised the bar with its hell maps. This seems to be a common theme among megawads. While I may seem somewhat enthusiastic, I can tell you there is no compromise in how highly I view the map's appearance.

    As for map 28, Crucifix Held Close: that is possibly my all-time favourite map title (over AV's Firewalk With Me, Whispering Shadows and Bulls on Parade), though there are so many fantastic map titles out there. The music is amazing (Castlevania?) which adds incalculably to the map's appeal, never mind the eldritch, hellish theme, with some outdoor sections that gave me an eyegasm. This map is dedicated to Espi. You cannot round off a map more perfectly than that.

    You may expect map 29 to be a lava-drenched cave crawl, and you'd be right. This map appears to be where Arch-Viles come from. There's a sinister soundtrack, and you are forced to confront some powerful baddies right at the start. Visuals are once again way beyond competent. It's not too big for a map 29 either - some are massive, or super-hard. It's some of the battles that provide the scale.

    I'll give you three guesses how map 30 ends. While the visuals are detailed and attractive, I don't do Icon of Sin battles. Up 'til that point it's a good level. Map 31 didn't seem "special" in the way most secret maps are, and you can run through a good deal of it. Maxkill purists will enjoy the battles, as there is plenty of room to run around and a decent number of monsters to blast. Map 32 is an Ultimate Doom-style base battle with lots of blank walls, but a clever blast shield secret that raises walls to protect you from a surrounding ambush. Map 32 is a lot bigger than you'd expect and features an interesting area where the detail is all up in the air rather than on the ground.

    The overall colour scheme for the first 20 or so maps is a series of muted browns, greys and greens, where AV was far more colourful, so AV generally pips CC4 in obvious, immediate appeal. That is, until the Hell maps, many of which are superb to look at.

    You need to really explore these maps to appreciate the work done, as the lack of colour in some maps means the highlights don't jump out at you. I tend to start geeking out at the later maps in megawads so don't take it as a bad sign if I go on about music and appearance rather than playability! I am happy just cruising through maps with IDDQD and IDCLIP, listening to the music and gawping at the view!

    If you find this review tl;dr, fine, disrespect me for writing all of this, but don't disrespect the Community Chest crew for this megawad which, at times, borders on epic - and then crosses the border.

  • Tellerstein - Ericson Willians (Tellerstein)
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 12209853 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Dragonsbrethren
    Tellerstein is a modern 1994 wad that requires ZDoom [Ed: text file just says "tested with ZDoom"]. It has everything you'd expect from an early Doom wad: boxy and/or over sized flat rooms, inescapable areas, nonsensical, wallpaper-style texturing, low quality graphic edits, and it's even based directly on the iwad, containing a bunch of unneeded resources. The gameplay, while it's pretty average, is uninteresting due to taking place in boring spaces. The difficulty should be high for the number of hitscanners used, but it never really felt that tough. There's good ammo, health, and armor balance.

    The music is all new, and it's not that bad, actually. A bit generic, but it's pretty much the high point of the wad.

    Removing the unneeded resources, using the new textures better, and giving the maps some major clean up would definitively go a long way towards making this into an appealing project. A few areas almost get it right, but they're not worth downloading the wad for.

  • Sparta - Matt "cannonball" Powell
    Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 881697 bytes -
    Reviewed by: MajorRawne
    Sparta is a 3-level mapset for Doom 2 which is based on the scene from the film 300 where one of the characters goes into space to fight demons from hell on a stricken Earth colony. Since it features ogres, mutants and daemons of Nurgle, 300's historical credibility has already been called into question by others, so let's see what our underpant-wearing hero gets up to with a chaingun.

    The first thing that boiled my wee is how the maps replace levels 19-21. I know map authors have their reasons for doing this, it just leaves me wanting to chase them with a sharpened serving tray while screaming EEEEE!

    Weird annoyances aside, I enjoyed playing the maps, and they won't be getting deleted from my trusty C-drive, unlike half the wads I review. The maps are all fairly big and contain plenty of things to look at. The city level, map 19, was clean and spacious with lots of buildings to explore and tantalising views of horrors to come. The maps flow well, though there is some of the panicked racing around wondering where the hell you're going which leads you into the middle of a firefight you can't win. Since the maps are big, you need to keep a clear head and watch where you're going; as in the good old days when we first played Doom, "if you lose it out here you're in a world of hurt".

    I don't know if I am simply a bad shot, but I ran out of ammo a few times during my first playthrough of each map (pistol starts). Also, I couldn't tell any difference between UV and HMP. The difficulty level is fairly challenging. Anyone who can dodge a shot should be OK (that's why I kept dying), although there are plenty of times that you may feel overwhelmed or outmatched. I suppose that's how Doom should be, though. Doom was scary as much as fun back in the day, and Sparta definitely makes you feel like you're in trouble.

    So, very good visuals, tough gameplay, a question mark over ammo balance at certain spots in each map, and the ability to get lost. This is a wad that people who enjoy exploring or who want more than a five-minute rampage will love to strip to their underwear and fight elephants (and ogres, and mutants, and daemons of Nurgle) to. THIS IS SPARTAAAA!!!

Let me guess; one of those reviewers doesn't know how to properly appreciate a WAD that you liked this week. Want to do something about it? Instead of complaining in the comment thread like you always do, perhaps you can make a difference and write some better reviews than those idiots up there. The /newstuff Review Center is the place to do so. Put that Doomworld Forums account to constructive use, because you need one to submit reviews.