The /newstuff Chronicles #442
Classic Doom - Posted by Bloodshedder
- 8 Comments
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.
Arxangels - Various
Doom 2 - Limit Removing - SP/Co-op - 896607 bytes -
Reviewed by: JudgeDeadd
A levelset by Monsterovich, Korsun and Predator. It has been sitting in the /newstuff queue for nearly a year now. I'm not sure why--maybe it's the mention of "cooperative wad" in the description, which suggests that the maps should be played with your friends only. Luckily I don't have any friends whatsoever, so I took on this all by myself.
The maps here remind me a little of Scythe, as they tend to be quite short and focused, as well as sticking to a consistent theme. Despite the text file description, you can safely play this in single-player, though you should prepare for quite a hard time should you choose to play on UV. Health, bullets and shells are spread around pretty liberally, but the designers are very stingy with rockets and cells and give these only on special occasions. The visual design throughout remains high-class, aesthetic without overdetailing, though one thing that kept throwing me off was that every level inevitably included a desk with a chair somewhere, or something similarly "realistic" that didn't really fit in.
MAP01: Area 12 -- A short map with a couple of enemy crowds to shoot your way through. You're probably going to need to provoke some infighting to stay in one piece. The visuals are functional and pretty, but also quite dull with the ever-present brown and gray and green we've seen so many times already. Not the best start to the mapset, but it gets better.
MAP02: Upper Base -- More interesting than the first map, this one has some nice, balanced (but tough) fights, with most of the action taking place in the large central corridor. The visual design is more appealing here, with the author using more varied textures. This is where Arxangels finally begins to show what it's made of.
MAP03: Outbase -- A very brief voyage through a small base and then an outdoor area. The base's texture selection consists mainly of blue and green, which provides for very nice views, and the outside areas are nothing to sneeze at either. The fights are a bit tricky, but shouldn't be much of a problem for a clever player. Just like the two previous maps, this one ends with a grand fight which you can try to skip and rush to the exit, only to find a monster in there.
MAP04: Back to Hell -- Your main task in this short map is to fight your way through a bridge, which is a multi-stage process that involves stripping down the demonic defenses layer by layer, until finally your path is clear... and the stage is set for the final grand battle. Dealing with monsters up on high ledges can be very annoying due to Doom's recalcitrant autoaim, though. A little gem of a map.
MAP05: Sky Towers -- Beginning with some combat taking place on high catwalks and forcing you to be good at managing battles in tight areas, the map then progresses into a more generic techbase area. There are some bugs on this level, with an Arachnotron that can teleport itself partially into a crate, and a secret room which may very well trap the player inside permanently. Some rather nasty fights abound, so you should keep on your toes.
MAP06: The Sewerage -- As the name implies, this map is replete with brown goo and filth-coated brickwork. Fighting in the claustrophobic corridors will require some good strafing skills, but overall this is an easy map compared to others.
MAP07: On The Surface -- If you thought the previous maps were tough, this one will really test you. Beginning with forcing you to dance around a roving Cyberdemon while trying to manage a horde or two at the same time, MAP07 keeps being a challenge throughout.
MAP08: Mountain Complex -- Another map with a number of really tough encounters, including some annoying Arch-Viles and their posses. There's not much to say about this one, but it keeps the high quality of the other maps.
MAP09: The Poisonous Lake -- This one once again subjects you to a number of truly problematic moments, including the almost ridiculous final encounter (which can truly be a major problem if you don't know how to get the BFG.) Short and sweet, the way we like it, right?
MAP10: The Waterfort (called "The Waterbase" on the automap) -- The final level is rather disappointing, taking you through a couple of not very interesting locales, before finally forcing you without warning into an Icon of Sin battle where you're supposed to survive for a long (way too long) time in a tiny area with monsters constantly spawning. Not very fun, especially when the spawn shooters telefrag you.
MAP11: Gardplut -- A bonus map set in a mixture of atmospheric outdoors and some techbase areas. It has some satisfying, rather difficult fights. Some areas look a bit bare, but overall visual design is as strong here as elsewhere.
MAP12: IQ Test -- This is the unwanted brother of Master Levels' "Bad Dream". Very easy, and utterly pointless.
Overall, Arxangels is a pleasant, fun and good-looking mapset which unfortunately seems to have been largely overlooked. Apart from some weaker maps, the levels here are all high-quality and should slake that Doom hunger you've been feeling. If I had to criticize the levelset, I'd say it's because, in the end, it's not really that memorable and lacks any particularly iconic moments; it's just another mapset like many others, without its own style. The music also gives that kind of a feeling--these are pleasant tunes that I haven't heard elsewhere, but ultimately they're rather forgettable and none of them really stands out.
Arxangels is recommended if you're a fan of decently difficult maps that don't take much time to complete.
I wish the map names were more interesting though ;) Also, I have no idea what was the point of replacing the menu cursor with an ugly, MS Paint-drawn arrow...
Damnation - Dzyan Kelsick (Arclite)
Doom 2 - Skulltag / Zandronum - Solo Play - 247286042 bytes -
Reviewed by: lupinx-Kassman
Damnation is a full-fledged 32-level Zandronum megawad for Doom 2 (that also uses Skulltag resources). This version uses MP3 tracks, but a midi-only version of the megawad was released as well. I don't usually play maps with Brutal Doom (in fact this was my first experience with it), but since Arclite designed and playtested the maps with the mod in mind, I decided to play it the way he intended. This means there are six wads and PK3s that need to be loaded together for Damnation to run correctly. It took some tinkering to figure out which order the resources needed to be loaded in, but the order that worked for me was: Damnation.wad, q2tex.wad, cc4-tex.wad, skulltag_actors.pk3, skulltag_data.pk3, and finally brutal19.pk3.
This time around our hero finds himself in trouble on the planet Kronos, where the UAC managed to let hell loose again (you can't take those scientists anywhere), and he's gotta close the gates back up. Though that essentially summarizes the situation, you can see the blood and sweat the author put into the mod just by reading the RTF document he packaged with it. It contains some commentary on the maps, a more detailed storyline, and a description for each individual level.
The long journey takes the player through a variety of familiar themes: overrun techbases, silver space stations, the planet's canyons, and hell to seal the deal. These themes are accomplished using a combination of Quake 2 and Community Chest 4 textures. The visuals are decent and convey whichever location the map takes place in well enough. The looks probably won't blow you away, but they are pleasing enough, and sometimes provide vista-like moments due to their sense of space. Ambient sounds are used in abundance throughout the megawad, and you will rarely find yourself in a spot where everything is completely silent. Personally, I think the ambient sounds were used well and gave the levels some more atmosphere. However, the sounds tend to drown out the music in maps that use quieter tracks. The levels occasionally go for a sense of realism (complete with uncomfortable desk chairs and such), but these aspects don't get in the way of the gameplay, and the layouts lend well to monster-slaughtering. Speaking of which, I believe the megawad shines most in its spacier almost slaughter-like levels (the first example I can think of being map 6). I also appreciated the occasional inter-connectedness, which provided multiple ways to accomplish a task.
As for the meat and potatoes of the wad, I think the maps are well balanced to the Brutal Doom mod's style of gameplay. This mod alters the original monsters' behavior in ways that usually makes them more threatening, something the author seemed to take note of in their placement. When I blasted monsters without thinking too much of it (as I tend to in most wads), I ran short on ammo, so I found it useful to take advantage of head shots and the new melee attacks to conserve firepower. The placement of captured marines was a nice touch. They are very useful if released, but usually are in a spot where you need to rush to defend them before they are killed. Skulltag monsters and items are thrown into the mix, which adds a strange element to the wad. The new powerups are pretty useful, particularly the Skulltag runes which carry on with you even after you beat a map. Skulltag monsters are usually just harder recolored variants of the original monsters you face (except for the Belphegor, which now looks like a centaur-like monster with a faulty death animation). The catch is these monsters are immune to most of Brutal Doom's effects, such as head-shots or take-downs. (I'm aware that there are extensions to the Brutal Doom mod that give effects to Skulltag monsters, but the author makes no mention of the Brutal Doom mutators, so I assumed he did not playtest the megawad with them in mind.) In any case, I am okay with this immunity since it provides an interesting dynamic of occasionally needing to return to Doom's original style of gameplay to take the Skulltag monsters out. Difficulty ramps up violently in the hell maps, but once I got the Skulltag drain rune, I essentially was able to cheat through the rest of the episode by returning my health to max for each super shotgun blast.
My only remaining gripes are that it is possible to get stuck in small pits without dying in a few maps. This usually happens if you muck about in details in the corner of a room (getting stuck behind crates in map 16) or if you search in nooks and crannies of sloped rocky architecture (map 29), but there is one spot where its pretty obvious you can get stuck, and the author even makes mention of it in the RTF document, so I am not sure why he didn't fix it (map 6). Other than this, I had fun playing through the megawad. How much of this is due to the mod and how much is due to the levels is hard to say, but I don't think it really matters since they are meant to be played together. If you're looking for a good megawad to play with Brutal Doom, try giving this one a shot.
Damnation (With no MP3 Music) - Dzyan Kelsick (Arclite)
Doom 2 - Skulltag / Zandronum - Solo Play - 47832492 bytes
Reviewed by: lupinx-Kassman
As the title hints, this version of the Damnation megawad uses midis instead of MP3s for its 32 maps. Thus 193 MB are lopped off of Damnation.wad. The midis sound generally quieter than the MP3s, and make it easier to hear the ambient sounds that the maps are filled with. Oh you want to know about the maps? Read my review on the original version of the wad! It should be somewhere on this page (I think).
PC Gamer article on Doom 1994 - Matt Firme (article) uploaded to idgames by Trevor Brunelle
N/A - N/A - N/A - 10841273 bytes
Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
A interesting piece of history uploaded for us by Trevor Brunelle. It's a old article from "PC Gamer" magazine in 1994 written by Matt Firme. A pretty cool article, I must say.
It contains lots of interesting info, good and funny writing (maybe too enthusiastic in some parts for me) and some nice hints like cheat codes, and weapon and monster descriptions.
It's a interesting article; take a look at it.
Firstmap - Woofyhound
Doom 2 - Skulltag / Zandronum - Solo Play - 18361921 bytes -
Reviewed by: MajorRawne
How can you tell when someone releases their first map? Is it due to lots of short brown corridors, or more than one chainsaw, or keys in sectors that are tagged secret? Or is it when the map itself is called firstmap.wad? Tune in next week to "Rawne's Myth, Mysteries and Toilet Anecdotes" to find out.
This map supposedly requires Skulltag, but as I didn't read the .txt file first (since they're for girls) I loaded it and completed it in GZDoom. There's a remote chance the map looks less horrendous in Skulltag, but to be frank, it's going to take a lot more than a source port switch to improve this thing.
The choice of wall textures isn't exactly complimentary, and the inclusion of Nazis warrants a slap across the face, but "it ain't all bad", as someone probably sang on some record once. The mapper at least knows how to use custom monsters from the Bestiary and generally uses them well: the first headless berserker, an enemy I've never faced before, made my bum cheeks pipe a tune of horror in my trousers.
Gameplay involves lots of minion-blasting with your plasma rifle, culminating in a fight against a winged demon-thing. You get two megaspheres, a soul sphere and two invulnerabilities for this, so nobody will be watching legendary players like J4rio or Tasurdcocoabean (whatever his name is) for hints on beating it. It's enjoyable enough for the couple of minutes it'll take.
Be sure to check everywhere in the outdoor area, high areas and low, as the blue key and plasma rifle are needed, and they're both "hidden" here. I also had to jump to get over a pile of crates blocking my progress.
With this map, Woofyhound has entered the scene of Doom mapping, so let's hope he uses the experience to craft something a bit better looking with a consistent, non-8-bit visual theme. Oh, and I'd recommend editing the health and pain chance of chainsaw and berserk zombies to make them tougher and have them coming out of the walls or teleport points behind the player; that would have made this map a great deal more interesting.
The Hall - Ruben F Duarte AKA Benny
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 33847 bytes -
Reviewed by: Blue Shadow
"The Hall" is a very short, single-player map for Doom 2 that requires ZDoom to run. Despite this requirement, there was no evident use of ZDoom features except for the use of wall textures as flats. According to the text file, this is the author's second map.
I'm not really sure what to say about this map. The start was a bit unexpected for me, and it probably was the most challenging part; you've got a megasphere in front of you, hell nobles on the sides and a few imps. Since I didn't have enough firepower to deal with the big monsters, I got rid of the imps and dashed forwards, only to be greeted with a chaingunner punching holes in my back while being shot by the hell nobles. Once I'd dealt with that, the rest of the level was a breeze. You've got lots of ammo and a fair quantities of health to deal with the bad guys -- you just shoot things!
The map has a bit of detail to it to not look totally empty or bland in some parts. The design wasn't something special or of much interest, though; the map is only comprised of a couple of square-shaped rooms connected by tight hallways. I noticed a HOM behind a pillar structure in the first room you enter (screenshot #4). There was also another graphical glitch in that same room as seen in the last screenshot, and most if not all of the door tracks were missing the "lower unpegged" flag.
For a second map, though too short, it wasn't as bad as I was expecting. You can skip it if you want, although, if you have 3-5 minutes (it might take even less, depending on how fast of a player you are) you want to waste just shooting things, then go ahead and play this.
Sprawlbase - Worm
Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 395820 bytes -
Reviewed by: lupinx-Kassman
Sprawlbase is a single moderate-to-large sized Doom 2 map for limit-removing ports. It's one of those hidden gems that unfortunately seems to get brushed over every now and again.
The level is a tech-base that uses only Doom 2's stock textures (aside from a waterfall), but uses them well. The result is a base that is both colorful and clean in appearance. It's a bit longer than the usual map, but the theme does not become tiring, since it varies enough from room to room to keep the player interested.
The main strength of the map, however, is not in its visuals, but in its well-crafted layout. As usual, I tend to favor inter-connectedness in layouts, as it gives the map a sense of exploration and lends more to its replayability. This map meets this point in strides. Monsters are in the 200's, but I rarely felt overwhelmed due to the way they are spaced throughout the map. Building this false sense of security however did become dangerous in a few situations, as ambushes with baddies placed in clever locations do occur throughout the level. One minor gripe is that it's easy to overlook the shotgun early on (you have to nab it from some sniping shotgunners), and there isn't quite enough ammo with the chaingun alone to take on the monsters throughout the base afterward for a while if you make this mistake. This issue aside however, firepower is well balanced for the opposition you face, and there are plenty of secrets to aid the player as well.
By the look of the description, this may be Worm's first map. If that's the case, he has made a pretty promising debut. Sprawlbase takes Doom's standard style of gameplay and executes it well by balancing the right amount of exploration with direction. It's not a very difficult level, but you have to pay attention and be resourceful if you want to make it through. I don't think this map should go by unnoticed, so try it out!
Your Mum - David "Springy" Spring
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Deathmatch - 689957 bytes -
Reviewed by: lupinx-Kassman
Your Mum is a small single deathmatch map for Doom 2 with emphasis on dueling. I loaded it up with a Zandronum bot as my opponent.
The map's theme is what I would call functional. It makes use of the gothic texture set in a colorful if somewhat unusual way. It was probably not the author's main focus, since texture alignment didn't seem to be considered much, and the textures seem to occasionally clash with one another. The aesthetic however does at least seem to highlight pieces of architecture like the pillars and stairs.
The layout essentially consists of an elevated loop around a central courtyard. The courtyard holds the two power weapons on a couple of platforms: the plasma rifle, which is pretty easily reachable via teleport followed by a jump, and the BFG, which is accessible through a timed switch leading to a teleporter. One part of the loop has columns that line the center of the hallway, which I imagine were placed there as a way to provide some cover-based action. I noticed there was no exit, which, though unnecessary with multiplayer source ports these days, I still think is a nice thing to have. There aren't really any dead ends, and though there is technically only one way out of the courtyard (a set of stairs), the plasma rifle jump makes it easier to escape it. The result is a fast-paced and free-flowing deathmatch map with some interesting locations to attack each other from.
All in all I think Springy provided a decent duel map, though the mystery of why it is in tribute to your mother remains largely unsolved. Still, the map is worth trying out next time you want to murderize your friend.
Fuel Devourer - C4tnt and Archi
Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 2304259 bytes -
Reviewed by: kmxexii
Fuel Devourer is a big, exploratory base level with a Doom mashup soundtrack. Archi and C4tnt made it for the First-try Demo Contest #11 (the results of which are included in the .ZIP), and if this is generally the caliber of original works first featured there, I'll have to pay more attention to it. It's not corrupted; it's very clean (minus the nukage) and has 3D-bridges including some grated walkways that hide sewer passages you'll take in a few instances. There are lots of key doors sectioning multiple ways into the various base sections and tons of tricky, sometimes claustrophobic fights to keep you on your toes while you attempt to navigate the layout, which is pretty forgiving compared to similar works. You may still get lost or confused, but such is Doom. The finale is open air and very different compared to the rest of the map.
I had a lot of fun playing Fuel Devourer, but this kind of map is just about my favorite, so I'm biased. I hope anyone else playing it has just as much fun, if not more.
Waste Processing Station - Necronal
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 197013 bytes -
Reviewed by: Blue Shadow
This is a small single-player ZDoom map in UDMF for Doom 2 which only uses stock resources. The map is tech-base themed, and as its title indicates, it's centered around radioactive wastes and their processing in some UAC station/facility. The map makes small use of some advanced features, like polyobjects, 3D floors, deep water effects, translucency, slopes and on-screen messages. Though the map is perfectly playable with ZDoom, the author recommends this to be played with GZDoom or Zandronum under OpenGL due to some rendering issues under the software renderer regarding some polyobjects in a "swimmable" 3D floor.
Design-wise, the map is linear, featuring pretty simple and basic designs, with mostly orthogonal-shaped rooms. Some of the rooms tend to be mostly empty in terms of detail and/or decoration. Texturing is mostly all right, barring a few mis-alignments that I noticed.
Despite dying a few times playing on Ultra-Violence, the map isn't particularly hard nor challenging. The only difficulty that I had is that the author seemed to have forgotten to put some health in the early parts of the map. On the other hand, ammo wasn't much of a problem.
When it comes to monsters, their placement suffers, unfortunately, due to how the rooms of the map are designed, i.e., being simple (empty) orthogonal shapes; the monsters are just there for you to kill. A couple of monster encounters felt weird to me: one where you go through a teleporter. On the other side of it, there is a good amount of health and ammo with dead things around and only one Baron of Hell to fight -- I was expecting more than that. The other encounter is near the end of the map: you open the door and a lone Arch-vile is waiting for you behind it; the monster poses no threat like that and can be easily taken out. The final battle felt like that as well; you've got this massive room with loads of rocket ammo and only one solitary Cyberdemon to contend with. Although, those map-geometry-based machine things scattered about in the area made the battle a little less stale than it might have if the area was empty.
Overall not a bad effort from this mapper. He/she could use a few pointers to further improve his/her mapping skills from experienced mappers. So if you feel like helping, give this map a shot.
Hell's End - Fellowzdoomer
Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 7593 bytes -
Reviewed by: JudgeDeadd
A rather ugly, badly-made Icon of Sin map where you're supposed to survive until the Romero's Head reveals itself. There is a like a ton of Spawn Shooters put into the map, which makes for a repetitive cacophony of the "Oremor Nhoj Em Llik..." sound, like a skipping record. Not to mention all the whooshes as the spawners fire their countless cubes. Anyway, invulnerability power-ups are very plentifully provided, so the map can be easily completed on the first try in less than two minutes, even on UV. Oh, and the author made the bad decision of putting the Romero's Head up on a platform with two cyberdemons flanking it, which means that they will almost certainly kill Romero for you before you even catch a glimpse of it. (The map can be completed in as little as about 40 seconds.)
Blood of Bin Laden Monsters - Infidel
Doom/Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - N/A - 20289884 bytes
Reviewed by: mrthejoshmon
This is a wad that allows you to play as horrible looking sprites (with awful sound effects included) of terrorists, some random soldiers and a fish... thing...
This wad was clearly made as a joke, and it may actually be funny for some people within the first five minutes of seeing a rocket launcher wielding terrorist get mulched by a cacodemon, but other than those five minutes of pointless laughter the wad and its miniscule amount of charm disappears into the recycle bin to be never seen again.
Futility - Ijon Tichy
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 578939 bytes -
Reviewed by: JudgeDeadd
An arena-style map where you're challenged to defend yourself against hordes of endlessly spawning enemies, with no other purpose than to attain as high a score as possible. Score is gained when you personally kill baddies, which also awards you with health and ammo spawns, as well as the occasional weapon. The difficulty is apparently scaled to the player's skill, which means that the better you do, the tougher the enemy spawns are.
The challenge is surprisingly hard, partly due to the numerous hitscanners which are a bitch to fight in huge open areas such as these, even with the ample cover provided. You need to learn the layout of the battlefield to survive. Some pickups spawn on the field, but, most of the time, to get some proper healing and rearming, you need to go back to the the home base. You're safe here (well, except for Lost Souls which can teleport in), but both accessing the entry door and leaving back onto the battlefield can be deadly challenges.
You can try this map to have some good ol' slaughter fun, but you might get bored fairly quickly, and even the catchy music won't help. For some reason, there is a lot of lag late in the game (as if you were playing Nuts), though I can't guarantee you'll survive long enough to witness it.
Hell on Icannar: Old Nuclear Plant - 129th Visplane
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 95243 bytes -
Reviewed by: Zed
According to the author, Hell on Icannar: Old Nuclear Plant is his first non-joke wad, and third overall. It's a small map, with 130 enemies consisting mainly of zombies, imps and demons/spectres, with a couple of cacodemons and a hell knight. All three keys are present, and none of them are hard to come by. In fact, the level is very, very easy. In my first attempt on UV, I finished in just over 11 minutes, so I decided to try it with -fast, which made it slightly more difficult (9 minutes, but obviously I already knew the map), so I decided to do it without the secrets (well, one of them is mandatory, but very easy to come by), which made it feel all right. Talking about secrets, I just have a little suggestion: make them a little harder to find. It's pointed out in the text file that some "puzzles" might be a little confusing, so I expected a lot of backtracking and/or switch hunting. Not at all. In fact, it's hard not to find them, with the probable exception of the Computer Area Map secret, which in turn (assuming you find it), makes all other secrets even easier.
Of course, there are also positive things: I liked the battle with the cacodemons and imps in a room with nukage, and the (semi) final battle with a hell knight and a pack of demons and spectres, and the chainsaw secret. It's pretty cool for a "first" map; it has no obvious or significant design flaws (except the mandatory secret, but honestly, that's nitpicking), and it's overall fun to play. I also liked the custom status bar.
Verdict: 10 minutes of fun. Download it. I recommend it.
World's Easiest Doom 2 Level! - Canofbacon
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 22060 bytes -
Reviewed by: JudgeDeadd
A single room with a sergeant. The sergeant is modified to die as soon as he sees you, and the moment he dies, you win the level. That is all. First-class comedy, ain't it? Also, if you injure the sergeant instead of just alerting him, he won't die and can easily kill you (so much for "pretty much impossible to die on this map").