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The /newstuff Chronicles #419

  • Illuminatus: Episode 1 - Cory Scott (NitroactiveStudios)
    Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 1295046 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Grain of Salt
    "Illuminatus: Episode 1" is the first eleven maps of a broadly classic-themed, limit removing megawad. The inspiration here seems to be shared between the early maps of both Doom and Doom 2, and indeed there are several textures from the original Doom here... although gameplay tends more towards Doom 2, what with the abundance of chaingunners and hell knights. The project mostly features classic Doom and Doom 2 music, except for a couple of tracks that are tweaked very slightly being given unobtrusive new unison lines and ostinatos. There are new graphics for the titlepic and RSKY1, which are quite pretty.

    Unfortunately, that about dispenses with the positives. Item placement in Illuminatus is shockingly random, and doesn't seem to have been tested very much, if at all. For a very small area of nukage in MAP03, you are given a radsuit and six medikits. Followed by some health potions for good measure. I skipped the radsuit as I often do, because I hate the screen tint and did not lose any health just darting across the nukage and back. So... yeah. Weapons and armour are not placed in intuitive positions, and I often ploughed through a whole map with the ordinary shotgun before finding that there was an SSG tucked away in an otherwise unimportant room somewhere. From a pistol start, maps almost invariably start with you being forced to mug a shotgunner or chaingunner for their weapons. But as bad as the weapon placement is, armour is much worse. Armour seems to be used in Illuminatus the way other wads use Computer Area Maps like it's a little bonus for secret areas that doesn't really affect the game if you pick it up. Armour bonuses are used more generously, but that's really only because they're used to decorate rooms.

    I'm not convinced the maps were tested for ammo balance, either. MAP04 and MAP05 both feature barons and hell knights thrown around without any apparent regard for how much ammo they take to kill. On both these maps, I actually just ignored the barons, and let them wander around on their own while I completed the level.

    Vital lifts are not tagged (MAP03). Barrels are scattered everywhere for no reason. Monsters on or near precipices are not given monster block lines, so fights (including the inevitable arachnotrons in MAP07) are trivialized by monsters getting stuck. Most encounters can be beaten by waiting at the entrance of each new area and killing the monsters one by one as they come through the narrow doors.

    Overall this mapset is quite poor. I don't know how it might improve during its future development, but I certainly wouldn't recommend playing this version.

  • Satan's Summer Mansion - R. Allen Gilliam
    Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 137847 bytes -
    Reviewed by: MajorRawne
    Another ancient map uploaded out of a sense of civic duty. These people trawl through bargain-bin Doom CDs from 1995, dammit, they spend FIFTY SECONDS of their VITAL TIME on this mission, they DESERVE to get their uploads reviewed. They DESERVE medals. In fact, why don't we all just stop making new maps and rely on Perseus and his mates to feed us a steady stream of old ones? It'll keep our community going for the next 25 years.

    The map itself? Well it's a bit of a fright to be honest; there are super-tall sectors (and I'm talking SUPER TALL, as in Godzilla standing next to a news stand), the requisite shittily-textured maze, plus some texture choice disasters. You know what? I LIKE this map. Yeah, it looks like someone who turns up at a modern house party dressed as Bros - cool for a short period back in the day, somewhat shocking in the modern era - and it's as rewarding to play as a game of hockey where your balls are the goal (they're not the hockey ball/puck, they're the GOAL, the thing people are whacking balls/pucks towards at a hundred miles an hour and cheer when they hit it).

    Still, the heady sense of nostalgia makes this one worth a blast, even if the idea of a massively tall building and frankly repulsive gameplay don't tickle the nipple of your fancy. This map hails from a time when things were innocent and exciting, where two Cyberdemons going up and down on pillars was scary and not ridiculous, where Doom was still new and there were no Calls of Duty to distract the emerging ADHD generation who wouldn't know a proper shooter if it blasted them through the heart.

    When you play this map you are playing the Doom that used to be, a Doom that has vanished beneath two decades of modding and refining. It might be a load of old shite, but it evokes more emotion than some maps from today.

  • Magicland - Daniel Thomas Chard
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Deathmatch - 15952 bytes
    Reviewed by: MajorRawne
    A series of square and rectangular rooms linked by the odd tunnel and staircase. Some unfortunate texture choices which betray the wad's age. Of highly dubious value to anyone. It's not worth bothering with screenshits, I mean shots.

    This wad is one of many uploaded by the same dullard who is distributing old wads without a textfile. That's the only point of contention here. To make it clear, when I call people names in my review I do not refer to the human being, just their moronic online persona. Next!

  • 300 - Krispy
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 865593 bytes -
    Reviewed by: MajorRawne
    This is the second wad I've reviewed in two days that borrows inspiration from the film 300. This one actually sticks to the film's "plot" and does not simply feature the 300 title screen.

    The other 299 are dead, so you alone must defend the gates of Thermopylae - this sounds like something off a Muse album. There are 10,000,000,000,000 enemies coming according to the text file. You start with 10 arrows. This is not going to end well.

    If a single enemy crosses the gates of Thermopylae, which is a wooden gateway with "Thermopylae" written on it (demonstrating all the subtle, rapier-like wit of The Simpsons), you lose in spectacular fashion. You'd better defend that wooden gateway-cum-city unless you want to FLY UP INTO THE AIR AND EXPLODE! Nobody fails the Gods!

    You get a bow and arrow and a sword. While there is some fun to be had during the first wave, you rapidly run out of ammo and getting more can be tricky. The sword... well it's more effective than popping up in front of the enemies to clamp pegs on their nipples, but when you're reduced to the sword on Ultra Violence you might as well blow Thermiopylae up yourself and save everyone a bit of time.

    As a novelty map, it's fun for a while. You can extend the play time by cheating to get the usual Doom weapons. Er... that's it, what are you still doing here?

  • Battle Zone - Daniel Thomas Chard
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 91404 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Doomguy 2000
    This level is not bad for a late 90s wad. It's got good design with some decent challenging gameplay. The map itself looks nothing like a battlefield, but one of the rooms does somewhat resemble a part of one. It's not much, but if you are looking for a good challenge for 10-20 minutes, then this wad is for you.

  • Scout Hut - Daniel Thomas Chard
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Deathmatch - 74217 bytes -
    Reviewed by: MajorRawne
    I would like to congratulate Daniel Thomas Chard for building a deathmatch level that appeals only to the Wokingham Scout Group... and even they probably hated it. Surely there's a merit badge for that: "the big badge of fail", perhaps.

    This map is so ugly it becomes excruciating. It's worse than drawing a line of sight to a Medusan. I lost 2D6+1 sanity points, then another D3 just for writing about it.

    Don't play this map; it will have the same effect as this.

  • Castle - Stephen Ridd
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 47497 bytes -
    Reviewed by: MajorRawne
    What happens when you cram a map with hitscanners but don't give the player ANY health or armour? Think about that for a minute, as I don't think it's ever been done before. Now imagine what happens when you don't get free weapons either. You must take the shotgun and chaingun from the corpses of their former owners, all the while dodging demons, Cacos and an unrelenting mess of bullets and plasma. Sprinkle that with rooms so bland they show you what a coma looks like.

    Provide no text file and you've got the cherry to crown your turd pie. All that remains is to serve it up to the population of Doomworld and lo - everyone wants to cuff you round the back of the head!

    So yeah, download this one if you MUST own 150+ kb of worthlessness. Storage space is cheap.

  • Death - Stephen Ridd
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Deathmatch - 45299 bytes -
    Reviewed by: MajorRawne
    A single deathmatch map that looks like the vague outline of a map you've built in Doom Builder 2, waiting to be re-textured, re-worked and then DELETED IN HORROR AT WHAT YOU'VE DONE.

    There are dead-ends and rooms with only one exit. Conducive to killing, yes, but not particularly thrilling due to the prevalence of tall staircases. The map is aesthetically challenged: if maps were women, this one is basically Velma from the Scooby-Doo cartoon.

    I often manage to pick maps that are frustrating, boring, stupid or outclassed. This is definitely no dwango5. It begs the question: who would upload something like this and why, beyond some vague and witless argument that "all maps must be uploaded". If that's the case I can knock out some proper crap, just give me two weeks, an orange crayon and a napalm enema, and the Phantom Wad Uploader(s) will be in business 'til the human race evolves into giant amphibians.

  • Jail - Daniel Thomas Chard
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Deathmatch - 41229 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Dragonsbrethren
    An old deathmatch map from the 90's. Its layout is interconnected, but it's cramped, and I personally think it has too many doors and switches to be a fun DM map.

  • Town - Daniel Hawthorne
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Deathmatch - 35830 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Dragonsbrethren
    As the unimaginative file name makes clear, this is a town-themed map. It's a perfect example of a 90's style attempt at realistic design using stock Doom 2 resources. There's a bar and a bookstore and even a subway complete with a train! It's intended for DM; it'd probably be okay with two players, but pretty much every building is a dead end. The subway would flow better if you could move through the train.

  • Dan's War - Daniel Thomas Chard
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Deathmatch - 34019 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Dragonsbrethren
    Another old DM wad; this one gives off an E2 vibe to me. There are two buildings, one small with powerups and a larger one with the stronger weapons, with a courtyard in between. It'd probably play good with low player counts, even though it really offers no alternate routes between areas. Two things I could do without are the low ceilings coming back from getting the BFG, which you bump into, and the presence of an invulnerability sphere in the exit area.

  • Tekstat - Daniel Thomas Chard
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Deathmatch - 30870 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Dragonsbrethren
    A cramped TEKGREN maze with all of one reasonably sized area to fight in and one or two other areas that aren't cramped corridors, depending on how you look at them. Lightning varies between fullbright and nonexistent. This would be absolutely lousy in DM. Unless I missed a switch, which is very possible, you need to do plasma gun-style bumps to get some of the weapons. A real disappointment after Dan's War; I'm guessing this predates that.

  • Weirdy - Gary Webb
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 20428 bytes -
    Reviewed by: TimeOfDeath
    This is dated April 1, 1997. It's a very short and easy blast through, what some might call, a typical 90's-looking wad. The rooms are small with some weird texture choices and the occasional sharply angled wall. Gameplay was fun enough. However, the most interesting part of the map might be in the basement where you can walk through a solid impassible wall. Can someone tell me how? The name and timestamp seem rather appropriate now.

  • Anyone's Frag - Daniel Thomas Chard
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Deathmatch - 15057 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Dragonsbrethren
    A circular arena filled with nukage, crushers, barrels, and weapons. It was designed "to take most of the skill out of deathmatch". It's actually not that bad in spite of the nukage gimmick, but being a single arena it gets old quick.

  • Roomwins - Daniel Thomas Chard
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Deathmatch - 14298 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Dragonsbrethren
    Flawless Victory!

    ...with the obvious joke out of the way, Roomwins is described as "rooms with windows." Not very exciting. The map design really isn't, either. It's a grid of nine square, dark rooms with windows looking into each other. The windows can be opened and closed with switches. A damaging corridor surrounds the rooms and has powerups, including a light amp, and an invisible teleporter into the center room. Like with Dan's War, there's an invulnerability sphere in front of the exit.

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.