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The /newstuff Chronicles #422

  • doomsday - ATUATU
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Deathmatch - 155719 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Malinku
    This DM map was released in 12 Nov 1996 and just now uploaded to the archive.

    This map is a nice small DM or duel map. What makes this map is how the playing area is laid out: lots of space to move around without getting caught on anything and very good interconnectivity. Weapon placement is logical enough where running into them by accident is not a huge problem. The only problem is that the detailing is weird and ugly.

    All in all, this is a very fun DM/duel map that would be a great fit on an Odamex duel server.

  • Refuge of the Marshlord - Fenriswolf
    Heretic - GZDoom - Solo Play - 109655 bytes -
    Reviewed by: ArmouredBlood
    Ooh, a Heretic wad. These uncommon wads crop up every so often, and really remind me how fun Heretic is. But does this solo speedmap, mistakenly made for a DM mapset, relay the atmosphere and gameplay shift from Doom to the medieval shooter?

    Playing in GZDoom (MAPINFO is the only GZDoom element, I guess it works vanilla), I was greeted with a foggy cave mouth leading into a drop to a lake of damaging scum and exploding pustule-things-I-never-learned-the-name-of. For a speedmap, Fenriswolf gets high marks for atmosphere and architecture consistent with Heretic's early levels, if not as detailed (or big). That is perhaps the best point though - the layout is interesting, but switches are sometimes stuck in hard to see places, and some doors that are necessary to progress do not stand out well. Gameplay is basic staff, crossbow, and gauntlets, with a neat poyo egg thrown in for a poultrifying group shot. None of the heavier weapons or monsters are present, and no special items besides a secret invisibility and perhaps something in the 3/3 secret are used. Ammo is sometimes hard to see because of the fog effects and the small nature of the staff gems or bolts blending in with the walls, but is fairly balanced on the UV difficulty equivalent. Health varied greatly depending on how well I conserved ammo, with the end fight getting down to the wire, culminating in a frying experience with the gauntlets under 20 hp.

    Fenriswolf put in quite a bit of work and care into this speedmap, so much I question if it really took him a day, and if so why he isn't churning out Heretic episodes, but that can be answered in the merely good and just barely varied gameplay. Check this out for a look at a well-constructed shorter map that will change up your Dooming experience and make you a heretic again.

  • Industrial Estate - Craig (Six) Farndell
    Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 246095 bytes -
    Reviewed by: cannonball
    Industrial Estate is a single player map originally made for a megawad project. This map was rejected for not fitting to the consistent theme of the wad, according to the textfile, so let's hope that is the real reason for its rejection.

    As the wad is limit removing you do expect quite a lot of detail, and despite only using a limited amount of textures, the author achieves this very well. There are a few HOMs, but nothing too drastic. In fact some areas look fantastic, I have to admit.

    The gameplay is pretty easy, with only a couple of surprises in the forms of teleport traps and discovering a lone archvile, but nothing too sadistic. The flow can be a little slow, especially at the beginning; I went the wrong way and it took me a long time to get the SSG. But once you have that, the map plays pretty well. There is a non-linearity about it as the map requires two keys to get to the exit, but you also have to hit switches in other building to progress and eventually finish the level. I do like how some parts of the map loop around and connect with each other. The biggest problem for me was getting the blue key; crate hopping is a little slow and annoying, but that's my only issue with the map.

    Overall a really decent map here, quite long and non-linear and fun to play. Definitely worth 20 minutes of your time.

  • Blind Doom - Doomguy 2000
    Doom/Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - N/A - 16015 bytes -
    Reviewed by: The Green Herring
    The "creator" of 100x has brought us another new gameplay mod: Blind Doom! Its purpose is to disable all graphics and sound, so that you play the game not only blind, but deaf! Unfortunately, it fails once you manage to start playing, for despite Doomguy 2000's alleged four-day effort, you can still see the floor and ceiling! Even if this weren't true, though, this WAD, like 100x, is an experience you can easily replicate by yourself — this time, by turning off the audio and closing your eyes. Skip this one and do that instead; not only will you experience what this WAD intended, you won't have to use up bandwidth and hard disk space to do it.

  • Seizure Doom - Doomguy 2000
    Doom/Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - N/A - 1903 bytes -
    Reviewed by: The Green Herring
    Another attempt at a gameplay mod along the lines of Blind Doom, Seizure Doom makes you play Doom or Doom II in conditions that force seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy — in this case, rapidly-changing images, via cycling through every default texture in the game at lightning speed. The question, of course, is why you would want to do this to yourself in the first place. Whether or not you would get a seizure, however, the way it works means you can't use this with WADs with custom textures listed beneath WOODSKUL (Doom) or ZZZFACE9 (Doom II), which includes the Final Doom IWADs; or any WAD with custom flats. Needless to say, skip this one if you have epilepsy; if you don't, try this once for the novelty, and then never run it again.

    Note: The screenshots are animated GIFs so as to illustrate the cycling effect, but are safe for viewing, as the images do not change more than three times per second.

  • Hall Of The Saint - JCA
    Heretic - Limit Removing w/ flat/texture mixing - Solo Play - 95973 bytes -
    Reviewed by: ArmouredBlood
    Ever heard of a Heretic slaughter map? I think the closest I've played is Kristus' episode 3 replacement Curse of D'Sparil, but thankfully he didn't throw as many monsters into hordes as JCA has. Yes, a slaughter-lover is against a giant horde of mobs! ... in a Heretic map. That only gives up to the claw as far as weapons go.

    Fortunately JCA has packed the map with time bombs, a few eggs, and a few tomes of power to get you past the initial chipping away at the hordes. On the UV equivalent difficulty the map is fairly challenging, requiring careful management of ammo and efficient use of time bombs and eggs. Saving the tomes of power for the very fun mob(s) of flying mages is a good idea too.

    The map is architecturally simple, with some appealing use of height variation and variance in fighting room. It does boil down to 3-1/2 basic fighting spaces, but with the monster density so high it's a decent time investment. The secrets are generally straightforward, though I'm missing one, and they don't unbalance the map. Music is unchanged, but Heretic has a pretty good soundtrack and E1M1 goes with pretty much anything besides a tense maze map.

    Hall of the Saint is a fairly good slaughter map that becomes a bit more interesting when considering it's for Heretic and actually uses the items heavily, if not having the full arsenal available for use. The map does have coop starts and difficulty settings listed, but in my experience that's likely tacked on, with just a bit of testing. Check it out if you've got an interest in some Heretic slaughter.

  • The Inquisitor - Shadowman
    Doom 2 - GZDoom - Solo Play - 8287496 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Csonicgo
    Note: This WAD had a PDF in it. What the heck? It's very hard to read, and quite boring. But I don't see many wads with an elaborate back-story, so give it a read anyway. It's based on the Ravenverse (maybe?) but requires Doom 2.

    What this is: it's an Oblige map that was edited quite extremely, just like the Slige community map thing a few years ago. Those maps were pretty cool, but this one... not so much.

    Starting the map in a pit (that took me longer than it should have to get out of), you're met with "undead corpses" which are zombies from Blood with hilarious edits -- they have shotgun guy legs! In fact, this feels more like a Blood-inspired mod than anything else. I didn't look too far for weapons, but punching these bastards is not fun. They have axes, and I don't. I didn't last too long. There's a "black sword" I picked up, but it's more like a faster fist, which means I still have to get close, and one hit from these axe-wielding zombies is -33% health. That's a little overkill for the first 50 seconds of gameplay.

    Another gripe I have is that its weapons are very, very weak-feeling. The first projectile weapon you get is a crossbow, and 5 arrows. There are quivers around, but only about 5-10 arrows per quiver. Reloading time is way too long, and the arrows do so little damage. Because of this, I get surrounded by the monsters, which are hilarious Blood/Doom 2 mash-ups. Seeing the chaingunner with a wifebeater? No thanks, dude. It also doesn't help that I get poisoned every time I get attacked by it.

    I decided to cheat a little bit (give health 32667) and see how much damage monsters actually did. There's a "stone golem" that does insane damage. You can die in a second if you let him touch you. Since the weapons are so under- powered, I felt as if I wasn't putting a dent in these guys. Having weak weapons while the enemies have strong attacks and high health is a good recipe for "really boring gameplay". "Unfair" comes to mind, too. Another note is that you MUST turn off Auto-Aim to do anything. There are some scripted gargoyles in the ceiling that the ZDoom engine thinks are targets, and your shots will fly off into the ceiling. It's maddening unless you turn that off. When I got done with this wad, I took an insane 12,271 points of damage (yes, I did the math).

    There's something later on in the map that's pretty unique: the "Alchemy room". You do some switch activating in a pattern to get the "ultimate weapon" in the mod. It's a Skull-staff. It has an Alt-fire function, so be sure to bind that to a key. The boss battle is quite well scripted, and the difficulty comes from the boss being a really fast target. No Game Pro Pro-tips will help you here. There are two "helpers" mentioned in the manual that are to aid you in your quest, but in reality, these two "helpers" run around like spazzes and do no real good. They feel like MBF's dogs, but not as intelligent, and get stuck in things.

    Gameplay aside, the visuals are quite good. I like the flame and weather effects. If you know Raven and Blood textures, and Gothic textures, you'll have a good idea of what this map might look like. It's a medieval mish-mash, but the atmosphere is pulled off very well. If you like Raven maps, you might want to take a look at it. The prison areas are quite spooky and damp looking. There was also a shotgun or something in the map, but I never found it. I found a lot of ammo for it, though!

    I may have to admit this wad isn't for me. I'm pretty good at Doom, yet I'm getting my butt kicked in this. I did read the manual, and it said "don't play this like Doom." Eh. Honestly, It's a different style of play that's too difficult, but somehow too boring at the same time. It's this kind of mix that brings out the extreme apathy in me.

    A few tips for the author, from a dude that doesn't map: reduce the damage the monsters do. Make the starting weapons a little more powerful. A huge sword from Hexen that did massive damage (and listed in the manual as "the finest sword") shouldn't be just an upgraded fist. Look at Action Doom 2 for examples of how to do melee weapons right. AND LAST BUT NOT FRIGGIN' LEAST, there's some really gross stuff in here that unsettles me. Mostly the crucified woman that makes pain sounds when you hit her. I wasn't expecting that. Don't put this "edgy" stuff in your mods. No one wants to play an elaborate Doom mod to see a bunch of misogynistic bullshit in there for no reason.

    However, if you're a guy that likes Tysoning Doom maps, you might like this wad. If purposely blowing up women in Duke Nukem 3D didn't make your dick hard enough, download immediately!

  • DeathBringer - Stephen Senn
    Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 66465 bytes -
    Reviewed by: BloodyAcid
    DeathBringer, or spawn.zip, is a wad uploaded for archival purposes dated presumably from the 90's. Not only does DeathBringer seem like most other bland, small and tasteless maps of the 1996 era, but this map takes that theme to the next level. There is a monster count of almost 500, being pretty big for the time.

    The layout is very typical. Proceed down a linear path and kill anything in the way, hit a switch, kill everything on the way back. It's a large level that contains all the weapons from the original Doom. With that being said, this map is not much of a challenge, since most of the enemies are low tiered hitscanners or imps, with a lot of cells and medikits. Being careless can still land a rocket in your face though.

    The design is a combination of multiple themes with no detailing whatsoever, texture misalignments everywhere, and huge non-orthogonal rooms containing very few monsters.

    All in all, this map can be skipped over for something else, but it might be worth checking out if you're done with the rest of this issue's wad already.

  • A death maze/arena - Scott Davis
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 34723 bytes -
    Reviewed by: BloodyAcid
    A deathmaze/arena is true to its name. The level primarily has two large dark, marble rooms. Upon starting, the player is given all weapons except for the BFG9000. Looking around, it's a large square room with 64x64 pillars every other step and random explosive barrels everywhere. Step off the pedestal and the entire arena starts flickering lights from pitch dark to slightly not as dark and doors start opening out of nowhere, spewing monsters out. Kill everything and proceed to the next room, which rewards the player a BFG after soiling their vision. There's nothing to see here except for a dark monitor, so I'd stick to avoiding this map. I recommend playing with IDBEHOLDL.

  • Sodaholic's Birthday Wad - glenzinho
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 558012 bytes -
    Reviewed by: MajorRawne
    Glenzinho's birthday tribute to forum stalwart Sodaholic is a single small map in which you fight monsters around a birthday cake, then face an Icon of Sin. The map will appeal to anyone who enjoys birthday cakes and fighting Icons of Sin... er, that's it really, although any map whose end-level screen says "This wad wasn't that bad!!! Seriously!!!" is probably not going to win a Cacoward. There is some replacement music. So yeah, that's it.

  • Subdivision - Paul Corfiatis (pcorf)
    Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 22806 bytes -
    Reviewed by: cannonball
    This wad falls into the category that many of us can relate to, a quick map made for Doom in a matter of hours.

    How is it? Well, looks-wise it carries that classic Doomy feel with a good solid layout to boot. Gameplay is so-so in my opinion, but mainly because I don't particularly like being stuck with just a pistol for most of the level; there is a shotgun near the end though. If you don't mind the pistol stuff, then all is well. The secrets are well-made with a well-thought out lift-oriented secret which is challenging to reach without being totally frustrating.

    So if you want a map to play over your tea (or coffee) break, then this map would fit the bill nicely. Though it is unlikely to last in your memory too long.

  • Straight To Hell - Agentbromsnor
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 683548 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Remiel
    A tiny level for GZDoom with some platforming, some exposition and a little violence. You blink twice and it's over.

  • ROCK-n-ZIMMER - Dragonsbrethren
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 61283 bytes -
    Reviewed by: SweatyGremlins
    ROCK-n-ZIMMER! Yeah! HELL YEAH! I was so excited to play this just from the title, ROCK-n-ZIMMER! I appreciate caps-lock despite its negative reputation among forum peoples, and I like this map too.

    But.... it lacks ZIMMER!

    Oh there's plenty of zimmer, just no ZIMMER! A quick look at Wikipedia's disambiguation of the word zimmer reveals: a geriatric rock band, a mountain, and a Canadian senator.... but the map is more exciting than those! Well except maybe the geriatric band, they would be swell.

    There IS plenty of rock though; well, stone. It's a MAP10 replacement for Doom 2 with lots of grey stone and brown floors. You know, a bit of pink or purple would have added some ZIMMER, or at least some zang. But I shouldn't complain since the map is quite fun and well laid out too. No annoying geometry to get your balls trapped on, you know those crappy bits of door or annoyingly placed bits of wall/column? Yeah, well none of that crap here. In fact, I met some spiders in a dance hall and there was plenty of space to (HORRIBLY SHOOT THEIR BALLS OFF) dance with them. There was even a curious bunch of imps who (GOT THEIR BALLS HORRIBLY SHOT OFF) were fascinated with some green barrels, apparently it's a yearly thing of theirs.

    Actually I had a really strange time in ROCK-n-ZIMMER, but I regret none of it. Everybody should play it just to see the sights and sounds of the strange place that is ROCK-n-ZIMMER! Really needs a disco ball though, and some Barry White NPC.

    (NOTE: Barrels don't appear on Hard or Nightmare, and only losers play without barrels you know.)

  • Dark Tartarus - lihanchi
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 34219167 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Remiel
    Dark Tartarus is a slaughter megawad, "slaughter" in this case being code for "incomprehensible". It is not a joke. Would a joke have thirty-two levels?

    lihanchi delivers a breed of gameplay so sophisticated it transcends things like "playability" to focus on one thing: no-holds barred action. Archviles and stealth archviles will push you to the limit, but the strong will survive. The four hundred imps occupying the starting room may be a slight deterrent to attempts to beat the first map, but in a worst-case scenario the Great Wall of Archviles also present can be used to jump the far end, reaching the exit in less than thirty seconds without actually killing anything. This sets the stage for the rest of the package; Dark Tartarus' multi-layered design allows for several approaches to any encounter and only has ammo for half of one - what to run from, how to do it, and what to do when you can't - usually die. There's not much room at the Player Agency for fighting in rooms crammed full of archviles.

    Eventually, the player runs into the major learning curve: the extreme tactical combat. Finding himself in a open room, courtyard or football field, he must engage way too many monsters in a deadly game of BFG peekaboo. Sometimes it's cyberdemons or revenants, but it's usually archviles, and this occurs in some fashion at least several times a level to keep the player on his toes. When one attack will launch him from safety (assuming safety is present) into range of twenty more, victory will take the extent of his speed, awareness, and affinity for witchcraft, but be all the sweeter once it's secured. Good thing there's cover!

    Dark Tartarus generally doesn't concern itself with the trappings of modern maps, like details or layouts. Themes segue from one to another with a visionary lack of regard for consistency. Techbases, rooftop battles, bizarre otherworlds, Wolfenstein, it's all here! Lighting ranges from "bright enough to have to strain your eyes to see" to "reasonably lit" with no in-between, set pieces from corridors to staircases to platforms, item placement from a hurricane to a slightly smaller hurricane. One early level is a near pitch-black maze of giant one-lane corridors, and almost the entire thing is a harmful floor. There is a skeleton assortment of goggles and radsuits with which to complete it, and god help you if you waste one.

    If I had to give a "favourite part" of the WAD (there's a lot to choose from), it'd be MAP30, where there are about 200 archviles all in the same area and you die horribly within seconds of firing anything. Good stuff!

  • Doom Zodiac - TOTH
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 17453443 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Csonicgo
    If I was held at gunpoint and forced to describe this megawad in one word, I would cheat and say "1997". In fact, that's probably the best description of this wad you can get. Just picture yourself in the mid '90s, on cdrom.com, with no knowledge of Doom review sites or friends that could give you tips on good levels. You're staring at an HTML-ized "index of" screen, clicking on txt files constantly, looking for something that sounds cool. You pick out a wad, play it, and with no real knowledge of other Doom PWADs out there, you judge it on no prior metrics but the stock IWAD maps, some other maps you downloaded in the past, or some levels your friends made.

    This is what Doom Zodiac feels like, at first. Given that the WADs I had in 1997 were pretty bad now that I have seen much better, I can't really hate them. This is the relationship I'm having with Doom Zodiac right now. It's pretty boring by 2012 standards, but the child in me felt right at home with his Pentium 200, eager to play some Doom after school because it took hours to download these maps, and by god, I'm going to play and enjoy it, because I can.

    I started in what appears to be a stasis chamber, albeit a crude one. I was immediately thrust into really, REALLY dark rooms. This is a common element in Doom Zodiac – everything seems to be dark. WAY too dark. In fact, I'm playing on a TFT LCD monitor and it's still too dark. Dark is good. However, dark is not so good once I realized that zombiemen have no bright sprite when they fire at me, meaning I'm shooting blindly until I get right up on them. This really isn't a problem because of how weak they are. Suddenly, Wolf3D SS near the exit. Nice touch. TOTH, If you're trying to emulate the "1997 mapper" here, you nailed it.

    By level 2, I could really feel the 1997 vibe, and not in a good way. Crates everywhere. Crushing ceilings that move back and forth. No ammo.

    Yeah, here comes the first flaw: not enough ammo. Most of the hitscanners are behind gates, which means I can't grab their weapons when they drop them (until you find a secret switch). The ones that are obtainable are just zombiemen, or a few chainguys. By now I've only 20 bullets to my name, and there's two cacodemons after me. Crap like this is why I learned Doom cheat codes back in the day. There are also some E1M2 pieces in here that feel shoehorned in, just for the sake of being there. There are also some areas that remind me of Requiem and Hell Revealed. If you've played these, you'll know what I mean.

    Near the end of level 2 is a Hell Knight. He exists for no reason other than to block the exit teleporter. In other words, he exists only to waste your ammo before the next level. Putting two chainguys next to him doesn't balance out this ammo cost, either. This is a beginner's map trick that I've seen too many times to count.

    By level 3 I was starting to lose my nostalgia vibe, and felt myself getting pretty pissed off. Level 3 is nothing but nukage, which means I am at the mercy of how long this radsuit lasts. Hooray for time limits! The level is also really, really dark, with a really, really bright sky. This is supposed to feel like Plutonia, but even Plutonia wasn't this dark. Having an über-bright sky with a dark world to run-and-gun in feels really cheap, it hurts the eyes, and, just looks bad. There are also some platforms here that raise up and reveal some monsters, but for some reason, go back down. Guess what? You can get stuck in the monster trap holes. Oi. There is no way out, either. The Doom renderer clips and flickers, and you'll slowly die. That's really great.

    Of all the things that could remind me of 1997 PWADs, this one really hit home. This kind of ridiculousness reminds me of so many maps I downloaded back in 1997: a promising start, but suddenly a sharp turn off a cliff. Or into a hole.

    There is really no excuse for "traps" like this. Because it's so blatant, I am probably right in saying it wasn't intended to happen. That could only mean one thing: these maps probably weren't played very much during development. Brushing that laziness off as difficulty is even worse. When I read "Each house is harder than the previous, so prepare ur anus for a masacre" in the text file, I didn't know it would be because the maps weren't tested.

    And because of this, I'm not going to play any more maps in this megawad seriously. In fact, I might not play it at all. TOTH, if this is your first serious effort, you needed someone to help you playtest these. I play Doom for the monsters, not to fight the mapper's negligence. Plus, this WAD is so large because of the addition of MP3 files. There really shouldn't be MP3 files in here. They don't really fit the maps that they're played in. So, don't think this WAD file is huge simply because of map data. Oh, no, you'd be wrong.

    I didn't even touch on how many slime trails I saw. This megawad has it all, man. Just warp to MAP32 for a "boxing match" with teleporting zombiemen. The early 80s anime music makes this pretty lulzy. The problem, though, is that the map simply does not work. There are 799 monsters in the map, but you can only kill the first "wave". I don't know if a platform didn't lower in time, but whatever the case, it's only fun for a few minutes.

    With all this negativity I've thrown so far, you're probably thinking, "Wow, csonig, this wad sounds like trash!" Well, you'd be right, but you should play this anyway. Why? Because it actually gets better. MAP05 is actually pretty good with an Episode 3 flavor, and MAP06 has a really cool fight with a spiderdemon, but be sure to turn the compat settings to "Doom" in ZDoom, or the fight is a lot harder than it should be. But, since this mapper can't help but be an ass, the "exit" is a telefrag death with a Romero head... Wait, did I say this megawad was good? What am I saying?

    What I am saying is that this mapper has a lot of potential. If he can stop using cheap tricks like whack-a-mole teleport battles and intentional telefrag deaths, and learn how to tweak his maps to work with pistol starts, he might make some really good maps. Hell, there are some good maps in this megawad. But there are also some stinkers. Just like in 1997. Only this time, I know better, and so should the mapper.

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.