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  • Doom: Dark Forces Arsenal - James A. Murdah III
    EDGE - Solo Play - 6121256 bytes -
    Reviewed by: st.alfonzo
    As the uploads of old once more begin bogging down the not-so-weekly review center like forgotten sediment at a juice factory, the truth couldn't possibly be any more apparent: The /newstuff Chronicles is turning into an Orphanage. Parents everywhere are abandoning their creations at the doorstep of an institution that functions solely off the favouritism of passing would-be-foster reviewers, and the lone stragglers are left clinging to blankets like twisted parodies of Linus van Pelt. Matrons struggle helplessly as children with names like EDGE and Legacy while away their toddler prime waiting for the next night train to rattle off without them, scratching fitfully at the crustaceans on their backs made possible by the gross inertia and squalor that comes naturally with sitting hunched over a life of exorbitant nothingness. It's a sorry existence held aloft by tolerance, refectory food and the dwindling hope of community reverence, and while the lucky ones are endowed endlessly with fruit compote and sponge cake (edible metaphors for the innumerable prattlings of the Doom community toward a wad's most menial faults, if you like. Nobody eats compote anyway.) the rest find themselves with nothing better to do than reminisce wistfully about past life on the hard drive.

    I found this one coughing up what was left of his spleen into a duck pond. I hope you're happy.

    Anyway. When I finally got home from the agency, introduced Doom: Dark Forces Arsenal to the wife and spent the last half hour explaining why I'd come back with yet another adoptee and not the three litres of skimmed milk she'd asked for, I sat down at my computer and remembered that I still hadn't seen Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Never mind, I thought: "I was only in it for the lasers." Satisfied with this mental retort I fired up the processor and wrote this rather nippy little review, which starts now:

    Doom: Dark Forces Arsenal is a weapons replacement mod featuring guns taken from the game of the same middle two words. Even if they weren't direct rips I wouldn't really be able to vouch for its being faithful as I've never played the original Dark Forces, but from the material shown here I can probably be safe in saying that it must have been at least somewhat enjoyable. They don't really give you that same sense of "oomph" or "powah!" as many other replacements do and are visually quite mundane to look at if you're like me and need colour springing out from every pixel to maintain face, but they are certainly of a consistent quality, are quite well balanced, and at the very least encourage an alternative means of thinking when approaching some familiar encounters. Which is always fun. A few irritating quirks or bugs mostly to do with aiming - particularly with the thrown charges and energy based slot 3 weapons - prove to be nothing more than that, irritating; and if there were ever MOT checks for weapon replacements I think this one would be back on the road before you could bat an eyelid. You may treat these faults as you would treat your faulty windscreen wiper: begrudgingly, but with a hint of affection.

    Yet while playing through a variety of different map sets using this mod, trying not to be off put by the illogical slot arrangement and corresponding item pickups (such as the Jeron Fusion Cutter replacing the Chainsaw as a ranged, cell consuming automatic projectile weapon or the double shotty becoming what is in effect a grenade launcher) something notably irk-worthy began prodding at my patience. Something which made me want to rap the Esc key even before I'd given it a decent run. Familiarity. There was an element of that which sought constantly to remind me that "actually, I've played this all before," and that I've really been stuck with the same array of firepower for decades, as though we were once castaway buddies and had picked apart each other's personality traits like petals off a dandelion. It's a pretty empty criticism, to be fair, and probably carries no weight at all past indicating toward what is undeniably a pretty samey set of weapons, but then again it's worth keeping in mind that this mod was never meant to cover new ground as it is simply serving as a transition of firepower from one game to another. And that's all that can be said about it really.

    Thus, if you're a fan of the original game and are looking to entertain your curiosity, and if you feel you are prepared to install another port to do so providing you don't already have it, then by all means have a crack at it... Otherwise, I'd best advise against it and wait for a better one to come trundling along.

    Sorry, I don't do orphan punch lines.

  • Stronghold - Wraith
    Vanilla - Solo Play - 95867 bytes
    Reviewed by: schmerr
    Alright, lets have some fun here by mixing it up a bit. "Stronghold" is a Heretic map that I couldn't wait to play. I mean, Wraith made Hell To Pay, one of my favorite WADs of all time! I obviously had some high hopes coming into this. That being said, that wait ended in disappointment when I realised that this map was only a challenge merely because of the fact that he just crammed monsters in there. Example 1, you start in a dark, octagonal room, there are 4 imps flying in, and you think "ah, subtle start"; nope, because right after that, you go down some stairs, get the crossbow, walk a bit more, then, the walls go up... BAM! 10 golems. Had he cut the number of monsters in half, added to his map, and focused on gameplay instead of "How can I piss off the player today?" this would probably have been a exceptional map. On the bright side, the author has promise, but he should NOT do what he did here. Focus more on the mapping, the strategy, and try not to make the player bash his wall with his keyboard.

  • Paranoid - The Persecution Complex: DB Thanatos: Weapons, enemies Travis 'solarsnowfall' Miller: Special effect
    GZDoom - Solo Play - 77976728 bytes -
    Reviewed by: The Ultimate DooMer
    TCs seem to be quite rare these days, but TCs that can make you think you're playing the original game are even rarer. Eight maps set in that most venerable of secret government research stations that inevitably go wrong, Black Mesa. You get sent in by some shady corp to steal some secret data, and of course you arrive just in time for the "incident"...cue alien things and black ops running all over the place trying to catch you as you scurry around like a cockroach with guns.

    Everything here is virtually indistinguishable from the real Half-Life; in fact, the only differences I saw were the last part of the shotgun reload animation (too slow) and the barrels, etc. not being flagged as pushable. This is achieved by models being used for all of the complex objects (including static NPCs and stuff attached to walls such as pipes and valves) with sprites taking over for weapons and monsters. The true 3D architecture is masterfully done with appropriate and realistic levels of detail and lighting throughout all areas, all of which gives a near-perfect emulation of Half-Life where it's easy to forget that you're actually playing GZDoom.

    The gameplay is also faithful to the original game, i.e. lots of creeping around trying to pick mobs off at a distance in a dark room together with some faster encounters, spawn traps and adrenaline-rush moments. There's also the excessive amounts of ammo that plagues HL and you have to manage reloads of course, although it's still fun to play through. It also has one major difference, that being the maps are in a non-linear hub form rather than a straight line, although the objectives are still linear and it does contain many duplicate message pickups which can be annoying.

    In short it's nothing less than a technical masterpiece (that was made in WadAuthor too if I might add :P) and a perfect advert for what GZDoom is capable of. It does mean though that it has higher system requirements, but if you can get past that, then your opinion of playing Half-Life will determine your opinion of playing this project. (All architecture lovers can, of course, look around anyway.)

  • Surival Hell V2 - Lucas"Lukasxd"Hernandez
    ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 313178 bytes -
    Reviewed by: lupinx-Kassman
    "Surival Hell V2" (yes that is the exact title of the wad) is a four map episode for ZDoom. In it we become part of an unintentionally (I hope) silly adventure featuring gameplay just as broken as the English in the various dialogue sequences of the wad. The title screen does inform us that this is "La wad Imposible" though, so at least the author is being honest. A prelude of what is to come can be read directly from the wad's description:

    "The Monsters of doom planning an attack on the Marines, but you're the salvation (as always), I sent via teleporter to DooM Town, where deves kill all those bastards, then they will give you another mission, and then you can go to a beer house"

    Map 01: Alright, so I begin on the helipad of Doom Town, home to the wackiest trees in the world, and proceed to a small square hut to learn my mission. I am informed that I must clear the map of the "doom monsters are planning to destroy the doom marines". Sounds easy enough. My weapons fire at twice the normal rate so this should be a piece of cake. Of course I realize the error of my ways as soon as I encounter the first zombie, which now has double health and fires twice per shot. This wouldn't be such a problem if hit-scanners didn't comprise of 90% of the opposition you would face in these four maps. Thankfully most of the zombies in this map will take each other out before you even have to face them, since they can see you through a small window at the beginning of the map.

    Map 02: My luck quickly drains at the start of this pure-silver tech-base. Right at the start of the map, you are surrounded by four Łber shotgun guys with no place for cover. I just have to keep dying and restarting the map until I luck out with a situation where the four zombies are dead and my pathetic health hasn't reached nil. Apparently that wasn't bad enough. As soon as you take two steps from the starting position, "waring" appears across my screen, and more shotgunners teleport in grid fashion around me. This will be the theme for the rest of the map. Don't expect to find health, there literally isn't any in the entire map, you will just have to be extremely careful and efficient to survive the large groups of super-powered hit-scanners up until the end of the map, where you are finally graced with something that can't insta-kill you from halfway across the room.

    Map 03: I now arrive at the entrance of doom city, the city made completely of wood. The beginning of the map doesn't offer much opposition besides a chaingunner sniping at you. Among the first things to do is converse with a gray-suited marine standing next to a blocky car with the particle fountain spewing out the engine. Role playing as the noble hero, the idea of helping the poor scripted marine is ditched in favor of forcing him to "build" a car for us. I use my brand new blocky car (built amazingly fast!), to teleport directly to my next destination: trouble, but nowhere near as bad as any of the battles that occurred in map 02. In fact, all you have to do is press one computer panel ("hack" it), and you can than pretty much skip all of the enemies to proceed to the next level. Pretty easy. The author must have thought so too, because there are only nine health potions in the entire map.

    Map 04: The map starts with a blocky broken-down bus and a bunch of dead marines. There is a hidden soulsphere in the map, and you better find it because it will be your only means of sustenance for the remainder of the wad. There are a couple of gray-suited marines to "save" in this map, although it doesn't seem to actually matter whether you do or not. Once again hit-scanners will be the only enemies to face, and this time the map consists almost entirely of conveyor belt corridors with crushers in them. Still, not as difficult as map 2. For the final challenge, the player must fend off against hit-scanners who teleport in while the bus is being "repaired". This challenge can pretty much be completely bypassed though if you stand in a specific easy to locate spot. Once the bus is repaired, so ends the map, and so ends survival hell v2.

    When I first played these maps, I wondered if this wad was a deliberate mockery style episode. However, it seems that all of the humor was unintentional, and that in my opinion, is the best kind of humor. The maps show the signs of someone who has gotten a fresh start into wad making, and probably chose ZDoom as their first route (why does this remind me of someone...). As a result, the author had some decent and even some good ideas, but horrible implementation. For the author I would recommend starting out with Boom-compatible wads to help nail down fun map-design before trying to pull off more ambitious projects. For everyone else, I would recommend playing this wad for giggles (except for map 2, which I would only recommend if you were some sort of masochist.) Otherwise, you may want to skip.

  • Burzums survival wad - DD-BURZUM
    Skulltag - Solo Play - 850769 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Megamur
    Note: For best results, this map should be played in Skulltag under the GL graphics mode, with freelook, jumping and crouching on, and the "Actors Are Infinitely Tall" compatibility option disabled; it will run under software mode, but this results in some nasty HOM in a few spots. The screenshots are in software mode because I didn't know this was a GL WAD at the time.

    This two-map set--apparently the beginnings of a full megaWAD--starts with a Cyberdemon directly in front of you, with a message scrawled into the floor behind it--"NO FEAR"--foreshadowing the things to come. However, for now, the Cyberdemon mercifully teleports away, and the opening battles are fairly small and inoffensive. You deal with a load of pistol zombies, snipe some Imps, plaster some Revenants across the walls, do a bit of platform hopping across some tall posts, and nab yourself a yellow key.

    And this is where the level author stops pretending to be nice.

    The next room is a very, very wide, deep chasm. Across the way is a ledge with a huge, red swastika on it, but seemingly no way to get there--the chasm is far too wide to jump over, and leaping down below simply leads to teleporters that send you back to where you just came from. Oh, and I forgot to mention that said chasm is filled with Mancubuses, Revenants, and roughly thirty Cyberdemons. I honestly had no idea how to beat this section, and never would've known had it not been for a helpful commenter in Doomworld's /idgames page mentioning rocket jumping.

    With that finally figured out, I then had an enemy-packed hallway to contend with. I ran and shot my way through that, and then the next one, and then the next one, and so on, and so on. Enemies. Running. Finally, a moment of peace, with a wide-open vista spread before me. I walk up the hill towards the horizon, but things aren't quiet for long. Enemies teleporting in. Running. Circle-strafing. Ducking behind things. Lots of infighting (but I'm firing few shots, myself). Everything finally calms down again. A switch and a teleport later, and I'm in another arena. Grab a BFG, wall opens. Nearly 200 enemies come out. Running (it's a very large arena--so large that I'm in little danger). More infighting. I grab a Megasphere. GUESS WHAT! 200 more enemies. Several more minutes of running. More and more infighting. I grab an invulnerability sphere. GUESS! WHAT! Hundreds more enemies. So much running that my fingers start to cramp. Endless infighting. Then one more Cyberdemon for the road before the end of the level.

    The next level starts out slowly again, with just some Imps and zombies troubling you. Then everything goes dark. Lots of enemies. Running. BFG through some Knights. Running to the next area. More enemies. Hit a switch. Keep running. Grab a key. Go through a door. Things finally slow down a bit, with more Imps and zombies. You see the red key. Grab it. More enemies. Keep running. Next room. Enemies. Running, running... Is anyone else getting tired of reading this? Because it's not much better to actually play.

    Amazingly, it's at this point when an already questionable pair of levels takes its deepest nosedive. You're set loose in an enormous courtyard, and the mysterious floor text gives you your next mission in broken English: "SEARCH ALL 4 SWITCHES." So you're off on a switch hunt. The perimeter of the courtyard is surrounded by high towers, with roughly 9 Cyberdemons sniping at you from them. While they're certainly a danger, they're generally not too troubling since you have so much maneuvering room. No, your worries don't start until you hit that first switch, and the walls lower around Fort Revenant. Over 150 of the bony buggers step out to hassle you, not to mention a handful of Arch-Viles amongst them, who are just a joy to deal with in such a wide open space with very limited cover. (I think some ground-level Cyberdemons might show up at this point, too. It was hard to keep track of everything.) Once inside the fort, you'll find one of the switches you're looking for (which also releases a couple more Arch-Viles, lucky you), and then...

    ...Then what? Where are the rest of the switches? Oh, they're out there, somewhere. I forgot to mention that this huge courtyard has an overall light level of 40--only slightly brighter than pitch black. If you'd like to stumble around in the dark, slapping walls in a vain attempt to hit switches while hundreds of enemies attempt to blow you to pieces, be my guest. Me, I got fed up, threw the level in an editor and just looked to see where the frickin' things were.

    With that out of the way, into another arena with another switch. Cyberdemons, assorted bad guys, circle-strafing, infighting. Another switch. Repeat the aforementioned until the exit shows up. Then the nightmare is finally, blissfully over.

    If it's not already obvious, the gameplay is just short of a complete wreck, with tons of thoughtless monster spam, poorly-designed arenas that generally just let you run circles around battles and easily stir up infighting, and annoying abuses of low lighting. In regards to visuals, the first level is mostly function over form, with structures existing solely to serve the map layout, not to look attractive. The second level fares better, and the courtyard section may or may not look good--it's hard to tell with how dark it is, but at least the silhouettes of the structures look interesting. Strangely, though, the maps have some amateurish mistakes, with Map 01 employing some double-sided lines as door tracks in one spot, resulting in odd graphical errors, as well as an invisible "sky wall" in another area. There are a few enemies stuck inside walls/objects, too.

    Oh, and there's also some Impse in two corners of one of the rooms, for no sensible reason. However, it sums up my experience with Burzum's Survival WAD pretty well: I don't know why these maps exist and I feel like I've been screwed for having played them.

  • Doomed DejŠ Vu - JCA (Jimi)
    Limit Removing - Solo Play - 614851 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Megamur
    The level starts out in somewhat worrisome fashion, seeming as if our favorite marine has found himself in yet another E1M1 homage. The fact that the first door has inexplicably become a crusher doesn't make you feel any better, nor does the unavoidable detour through a huge pool of sludge soon after. It's not until you head downstairs into a room that looks suspiciously like part of E2M4 that you realize there's more to this than just another Hangar remake. Step through the red door and--wouldn't you know it?--now you're in E2M1. Go on further still, and things start looking like E1M8. And so the level goes, acting as sort of a highlight reel of the various "eras" of the original Doom.

    Luckily, it's not as simple as if the author just stitched a bunch of old levels together. The level is made up more of "shades" of original Doom maps, instead of outright remakes. You'll see a bit here and a bit there that recall chunks of Doom 1 maps and are immediately familiar, but then there's new elements and rooms that weren't there in the original Doom--nothing is copied verbatim. Some areas are only extremely loose adaptations of original Doom locations. Detail has also been bulked up dramatically from the original levels. It's impressive without going overboard, with texture usage that is simultaneously varied and perfectly complementary, and with some great use of gradient lighting. Outdoor regions are particularly nice to look at, with large vistas transitioning smoothly into dark caves, and lots of variation in floor heights and flats, resulting in convincing, jagged rock floors with much depth to their appearance. Some of the E2-themed areas were a bit more sparse and empty and perhaps a tad too similar to the original episode that influenced them, but otherwise, the level is a joy, visually. Admittedly, having all three episodes crammed together into one map kind of loosens the integrity of the theme (e.g., being on Phobos one moment, then walking through a door into Deimos), but I found it fascinating to have the world of Doom merged together as a whole. Wandering from an area reminiscent of E3M1/M2, then looking through a window to see the start room of E1M1 screwed with my head, but in a cool sort of way.

    While the idea of the map is neat, and the visuals are solid, the actual gameplay is a little bit harder to rate. Navigation is generally simple, with only a few side rooms and a small bit of backtracking to contend with, which might be a downer if you were expecting more complex layouts, such as featured in the original episodes. I was only tripped up with the final puzzle, which tasked you with flicking a multitude of switches. However, even with all the switches hit, you can only unlock the final door by leaping out to a small island with an invulnerability sphere on it, far away from said door, which wasn't terribly obvious and had me wandering around for a few minutes.

    Then there's the combat. It's generally pretty intense, and the author is not shy at all about employing Doom II monsters and generally high quantities of bad guys. You'll be slugging it out with large varieties of hellspawn within minutes, and the action only flares up more from there. The cramped Doom 1-style design, with more emphasis on corridors instead of wide open spaces, also lends itself well to the frantic firefights. You might have some trouble early on if you don't find some secrets, but typically, health and ammo are doled out in amounts sufficient enough to keep you moving forward. However, the author has a knack for having you slaughter a whole mess of demons before sending in multiple Arch-Viles--usually accompanied by another fresh batch of demons--and you'll have to weed through the masses and get to the Archies fast, lest all your killing be undone. This happens repeatedly throughout the map and can get a bit tiresome. Furthermore, I felt the difficulty of the map just started to fall apart a bit near the end, with seemingly more Cyberdemons and Arch-Viles around every turn, and me holding down the fire button and hitting quickload more than I would've liked. The boss fight homages also just don't have a very good feel to them. The arenas have layouts largely similar to their original incarnations, but instead of two Barons in the E1M8 section, there's a ton of Barons; instead of a Cyberdemon in the E2M8 section, there's four Cyberdemons; instead of one Spider Mastermind, there's six. "When in doubt, multiply" seemed to be the motto for the boss battles in this map, and it feels a little lazy. On top of that, your goal is actually to just run around the perimeter of said arenas and hit a bunch of switches in order to get to the next area, instead of actually fighting said bosses. I guess all this is the best you can do with a vanilla-style Doom II map, but it still seems like a bit of a letdown.

    Some uneven difficulty aside, I still think this map is a worthy play. It's a fascinating concept I've personally always wanted to see someone try, and is a fine way of honoring Doom's 17th birthday. Plus, it's a neat to get an idea of what the original Doom might've looked like were it built for a limitless port. There's lots of action, too, and the level's just a big sucker--by the time I hit the exit, I'd racked up two hours and fifteen minutes of playtime, and that's not even counting the restarts from getting killed. Try it out.

  • Random Chaos Collab 1- The CyberCrusher - Members of <+RC+>
    ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 384688 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Megamur
    A small hub mapset based around a simple idea: Enter four different arenas and defeat a Cyberdemon in each. The arenas are broken down as follows:

    "Rage" by Blitzkrieg - The first arena I entered, and it's both the toughest and ugliest of the four maps. Most of the rooms are just squares with no architectural or lighting detail whatsoever. Author abuses poor lighting and strobe effects in order to increase battle difficulty. Most of the gameplay consists of big, random swarms of enemies that you can mostly just dodge past while you make mad dashes to the exit teleporters. While the enemy hordes in the early rooms can kill you pretty fast, the Cyberdemon battle itself is weak, as the arena is far too large, and the pillar in the middle provides sufficient cover. Again, only the dim strobe lighting during the fight causes any trouble, though it mostly just results in you missing your target and wasting ammo. Not a great effort.

    "Hunted Through Hell" by Reno - Probably my favorite of the whole set, and also the simplest--just you, a Cyberdemon, a rocket launcher with lots of ammo, and a bunch of narrow hallways. Not especially detailed, but looks fine, with texture choices that complement each other well, and some skylights overhead. Gameplay isn't very innovative or daring, but still effective and tense, with you mostly having to rely on sound to know where the Cyberdemon is coming from, and making sure it doesn't sneak up on you.

    "Duel in the Mist" by Axel S - A gimmicky battle, with you fighting in a foggy arena against a translucent Cyberdemon. Your only arsenal in the map--pistol aside--is a super shotgun. I felt this was a bit of a missed opportunity, since the super shotgun requires you to get close in order to do any real damage, and getting so close basically nullifies the fog and translucency; having a long-range fight against a foe shrouded in mist somewhere in the distance might've been more exciting. Visually, between the mist and the fact that the map is basically just a rectangle, there's little to see. The trap floors that briefly dunk you in sludge, making you a prime target for the Cyberdemon, were probably the best part of the fight.

    "Star Construct" by Lupinx-Kassman - Easily the best-looking of the maps, with some great use of custom textures that make it look like you're on some huge, super-futuristic freight elevator. Here, a Cyberdemon assaults you from atop four pedestals surrounding the arena you're in, occasionally teleporting to another pedestal in order to get the drop on you. What I probably liked the best was the fact that the only weapons you're given are a regular shotgun and a chaingun--nothing heavy duty--so you'll have to keep dodging and stay alive while you slowly plink away at the big brute. Again, though, the arena is too large and has no obstacles to bump into, so as long as you're always moving, the difficulty is minimal. It's a shame the challenge couldn't be on par with the visuals.

    Overall, Random Chaos Collab 1- The CyberCrusher isn't a particularly noteworthy mapset, nor even an especially challenging one, despite the focus on Cyberdemons. However, it's an amusing, brief diversion that will keep you busy for 10-15 minutes.

  • The Mountain Base - Sterling Rathbun
    ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 107606 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Megamur
    The Mountain Base is a level that takes place in--you guessed it--a UAC base hidden in the mountains. The author refers to it as "a large tech base," but you wouldn't know it from playing through it. Even taking it slow, you're looking at less than a half-hour of playtime. Most rooms are fairly small, and detail is perfectly average, with little to denote the "mountain" theme aside from the fact that some rooms are slightly larger, have no ceiling, and employ jagged walls and rock textures. Some height variance certainly would've helped add to the mountainous feel, as the outdoor areas are generally just as tall as the connecting indoor zones.

    Gameplay doesn't fare a whole lot better. Navigation is simple, with only the occasional small side room off of the main path, and no puzzles. Secrets are a breeze to find, and you'll find yourself equipped with practically every non-cell weapon in the game in less than ten minutes. Before the map is over, you'll have acquired all weapons, berserk pack included--even the mighty BFG doesn't do much to hide itself from you. Even backpacks, MegaArmor, a Megasphere, and a Soul Sphere (right out in plain sight, no less) await you. This wouldn't be such an issue if not for the fact that, even on UV, there's not much resistance to deal with. The closest you might get to sweating is bumping into a couple of Knights who try to back you into a small room, with an Arch-Vile off in the distance (who seems to have difficulty navigating the terrain to reach you). There's one fight after you nab the yellow key that's half-interesting, with you in a tiny side room as a couple of Revenants and Barons attempt to assault you through the windows, but even that battle is made easy by hiding directly behind the door, which not only protects you from the enemy attacks, but they can't even open it to get at you.

    One must assume that all the supplies you're given are to deal with "the boss room" mentioned in the text file. Sadly, even this fizzles. The objective is to hit four switches located high up on pillars in order to escape. Apparently, you're supposed to ride the lifts up to hit the switches, but they can easily be triggered from the ground (a glitch even the author realized, but failed to do anything about, for some reason). What's supposed to be challenging about this is that a Cyberdemon is supposed to be stalking you through this dark arena as you work through these switches. However, upon entering the big room and seeing the hitscanners tucked away in the little windowbox up above, begging to be killed, I became suspicious, and completed the switch quest without firing a shot (which was really easy, since the zombies aren't anywhere near you and posed almost no threat). Sure enough, the Cyberdemon teleport was triggered by sound, and by not firing back, the Cybie never showed up. Funnier still, hitting the switches causes stairs to raise, which actually plug up the hole the Cyberdemon is supposed to hear you through, making it so that it will never, ever show up if you hit all the switches first.

    Finally, on the technical side, the level inexplicably takes place on MAP09--I guess because the author liked the music--and the author also encourages players not to enable jumping. So why not use ZDoom lumps to play MAP09's music in MAP01, and force-disable jumping? As a matter of fact, this WAD does nothing at all to utilize ZDoom functionality, and if it weren't for the author's silly decision to have a switch-activated door with sector tag 0 applied to it, it would run perfectly fine in PrBoom+ (and actually did, aside from having to NOCLIP through that door). Heck, if the author dropped the extra Co-op starts and didn't use Boom's generalized sector types (which ultimately were used just to perform the same actions as standard DOOM sector effects anyway), it could've been a vanilla WAD.

    While certainly not a horrible effort by any means, it's entirely average at best, and plagued by amateurish decisions at worst. Not recommended.

  • Gonna Kick Your Fucking Ass 1.0 - Michael Roach
    Vanilla - Solo Play - 39153 bytes
    Reviewed by: Megamur
    Gonna Kick Your Fucking Ass (version 1.0, specifically) is a 1994 WAD that starts you off in a small room with four doors. Much like Halls of the Damned, the exit door is only a few steps away from where you start, but it's barred by red, yellow and blue key doors. Thus, you must explore beyond the other three doors to find the keys you seek.

    Being a '94 map and all, it's not particularly pretty, with bare-bones lighting, extremely limited room detail and oddly-angled walls all over. There's a fair share of visual errors, too, including some nasty HOM, a weird effect where a flat "bleeds" through a nearby wall, and improperly unpegged wall textures. Still, textures and flats are paired together in relatively coherent ways within rooms, so it's not the worst eyesore in the world or anything.

    One thing that legitimately surprised me was the difficulty. I've played many an old WAD with intimidating "This level is going to kill your family and eat your dog" kinds of titles before, like this one, but they rarely deliver on the promise. I can honestly say, I was reduced to 2% health and blindly firing my plasma gun in the dark at nothing in particular (just in case) before the level was finished. The level can put you in some devious spots if you're unlucky enough to wind up in them, and you're not leaving without a fight.

    That's both the level's strong suit and its weakness: the non-linearity. You can pick any of the three doors at the beginning and venture into the rooms beyond in basically any order that you choose, so depending on which areas you visit first, you can enter a situation while woefully under-equipped. Furthermore, the difficulty can differ pretty dramatically depending on how good you are at finding secrets--all armor suits in the map are in secret areas, and you'll be in a real bad spot without finding at least one.

    Finally, the red key is hidden in a secret, which is always a jerky sort of thing to do, but at least I was able to find it without too much effort.

    If you're not interested in ancient maps, there's certainly no reason to play this one. However, if you've got a bit of a '94 fetish for some reason and enjoy non-linear maps, you could certainly do worse than this short but tough level.

  • Fusion Mapping - Sergiu "Grymmoire" Stanciu ; CodenniumRed
    ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 4019920 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Rambosee
    The goal of these 2 maps is to combine a map from Ultimate Doom and Doom 2 while keeping the game play the same. There were 2 maps made and each of the maps are in separate wads. And here are the results. Both levels were played on UV.

    E1M4 with MAP02

    When first starting off with this map, you hear music which fits exceedingly well. The architecture is very, very good when starting off also. Seeing this made me get high hopes for this map. Turns out, I kept getting wronger and wronger the more I played on. This map is HUGE. There was a lot of backtracking when I played it, and at one point, I simply had to noclip in order to get to the next part rather than figuring out how to lower the platform blocking my way.

    The ammo is very funny in this level. The first third of the map, I had too little ammo and had to skip parts in order to move on. The second third of the map, I suddenly had excess ammo and took down barons and other with no problem. The last third of the map, I was running out of ammo from dealing with hordes, but the ammo packs were few after that. The last fight with the arch and the resurrected spider solely depended on the shotgun and very little of the chain gun.

    While playing, there were some exceedingly obvious texture misalignments, mostly on the doors. Some traps that were put without the instant spawn could be disabled in various ways, then safely killing off the monster. One of the key doors also wasn't marked, which left me taking damage thinking I could walk easily through it, and that the hell knights would be worth it. Also a tiny maze was included in the map. Even though the maze was very well done in design, the author forgot that generally mazes in doom, tend to suck.

    The custom monster that I nicknamed "the sniping revenant" was at first cute and fun to kill. Very quickly, they became a huge nuisance, and I groaned every time I saw one of them. Also, if the point was to make it more classic, I don't think that the sniping revenant should have been there in the first place.

    Overall, a hard and confusing map filled with traps and other tricks. Those seeking a challenge and aren't afraid of big maps and backtracking, this is for you. Otherwise, pass on onto something else.

    E3M2 with MAP08

    Looking at the start, I had the same dilemma. The visuals were pleasing and it looked promising. As I moved on I started despising the map to the rare point where I actually wanted to quit the map. The ammo was absolutely horrible. When I went into the imps and demons and a baron room, I walked out of there with health in the single digits and ammo only for the chain gun with just 2 bullets left.

    A bug was found when I did a run, the room which recreates the baron and cyber scenario in MAP08 (except now with hell knights). Somehow after killing 3 hell knights, the cyber just stood there, ignoring the other hell knights, mauling the cyber to death. That's what happens when you modify the game for more monsters.

    Speaking of which, this level was impossible for me in the end to complete due to a couple of factors. One is that the boss is so goddamn over powered. Two is that I completely ran out of ammo and only had a fist, very fun. Three is that the space is so cramped and I couldn't even try to fist that guy without dying. In the end I had to give myself ammo with a console command to see the rest. After killing him, I walked into the UNMARKED exit, ending the level.

    Though this map wasn't as long and not as confusing, all the other factors that made the other map bad are probably multiplied by 5 in this level. Overall, you should only play this map only if you want to play a mini version of Invasion UAC which is only a tiny bit ramped down. Otherwise, skip this level at pretty much all cost.

    Final verdict

    Hard as hell maps with decent design, though the hardness really outweighs every piece of good. You know those hard maps which you finish and you are saddened by the level ending and want to play it again? These aren't one of those maps; these you just want to end straight away and never see again. I hope the author really ramps down the difficulty and gets very, very better eyes for health and ammo because by the excellent design, the author of the maps has an exceedingly bright future in mapping, it's just overshadowed by the difficulty and the ammo and health balance and the exceedingly long and confusing map making.

  • 1fifwar - George Fiffy
    Vanilla - Solo Play - 118631 bytes -
    Reviewed by: MegaDoomer
    This three-level wad is from 1994, and frankly it shows. The maps replaced are E1M1, E1M2, and E1M8, but E1M1 is primarily a single huge circular arena with an exit accessible immediately and a few insignificant side areas. E1M2 is a little more fluent, but still has very bare architecture and simple design and is packed with unnecessarily high amounts of monsters. E1M8 doesn't even look like a new level at first, and in fact you can pretty much finish it as if it was the original E1M8. The only change is some side areas have been added, and they're not in the style of the map and don't feel fitting at all, in the case this map was intended as an "expanded" version of E1M8. Overall these maps are poor at best, awful at worst, and I'd recommend skipping them, a recommendation that should be easily justified by the supplied screenshots.

  • WHIPLASH.WAD - unknown
    Vanilla - Solo Play - 28593 bytes
    Reviewed by: Megamur
    Another one of those '94 maps that really only get re-uploaded for the purposes of "historical completion" or whatever. The usual assortment of completely random textures are here, often applied to walls that aren't the correct size and dimension to support them. I do admit to being a little fond of the main junction area of the map, with catwalks bordering rooms that you can look into through barred windows, and lifts that take you down to said rooms and other adjoining passageways. It's an interesting little bit of connectivity and gives the map a more three-dimensional feel. But that's a highlight to a level that's mostly just a series of dull rooms with little detail, narrow hallways and mindless blasting. I actually did die once (I guess the author thought it would be funny to put a crusher right as you exit a sludge maze), and there are several higher-level monsters and a healthy smattering of shotgun zombies, but your attention won't be held for long.

  • TurboCharged ARCADE! - The Sequel Episode! - Xaser & Jimmy
    ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 1646822 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Rambosee
    Map 001: ASK THE WISE GUY

    The level takes place mostly outside in a mountain. You have to climb up the stairs to reach the wise guy, avoiding obstacles. This level is probably one of the most creative things ever created. It actually looks like a mountain, and there were no flaws in here. The music helped greatly to set the mood of an actual adventure, and it started feeling like one too! I'm guessing the author saw the level was so big, that a very special secret was required to complete it. This is probably the only level in the whole series where you live at the end, and not spontaneously gib, but you have to get lucky in the secret! Great map, nothing else to say.

    Map 002: CONGESTION 1337

    This level is nicely executed, with a good challenge. You are supposedly in a hell prison and you make your escape from what seems to be a 1337x1337 map. A good challenge is that as soon as you step on the lava, you burn and die, no matter what, making the general tactic of rushing and going fast in doom void. And I found it great to have that challenge. The architecture is very nice, and yet again, no flaws.

    Map 003: BALLS OF STEEL

    So what do we have here? A fun mini game in 3rd person view, that's what! A big rectangular arena with one end containing blocks and the other one has you in it. A rocket is fired from somewhere. You have to use your body to bounce the rocket into the blocks to succeed. The game ends when you destroy all the blocks. You lose the game if you lose all 3 balls (rockets). Does this remind you of anything? The only power up you get is a mega sphere that appears every time you are hit, but it moves, so act quick! Very good idea and the execution is just as good. Yet again, no flaws.

    Map 004: BLOCKS OF DOOOOM!

    Another mini game in 3rd person? This time it's even simpler: you are in a large grid, free to move around. When a round starts, some of the grid spaces turn green. Then they rise. Once they rise, you have a certain amount of time to grab all the "parshul inveezybilluhtee" while avoiding the imps. Once you grab all, survive until the time runs out. Then the next round begins. If you touch the blocks, instant gib followed by a message: BLARGH U DIED DUMBASS >:C . Overall a hilarious mini game with a good challenge and a very suitable ending.

    Map 005: UNHOLY MATRIMONY

    So it's in a church full of demons with a wedding going on between a baron of hell and a hell knight. You interrupt the wedding for no reason, and your goal is to fight off the increasingly harder hordes of hit scanners. Then something happens (play it for yourself to find out) and the resolution of this level is just mind numbingly hilarious. One of the best endings in the whole turbo series.

    Map 006: MUSEUM RAIDER

    This is also one of the best detailed maps in the series, and it was fairly enjoyable. In all honesty, I didn't complete the level since I embarrassingly did not know what to do in the very beginning. However, noclipping into the level, I saw the various details and challenges ahead, and it all seemed enjoyable. So I noclipped my way through and tried the obstacles and sure enough, they were very fun. Good map, though you could have made it a TINY bit more obvious of what to do in the beginning.

    Map 007: BLATANT DEMOLITIONISM

    Another mini-game except with normal view now. The story here is simple: there are buildings. Hordes are trying to destroy them, and you have to destroy the horde before they destroy the building. Complete with a full points system, this level is not to be missed. Excellent mini game, with no flaws.

    Map 008: MERRY SHITMAS

    The plot is that apparently Santa didn't give you presents, you go all mad, and vow to kill Santa. It sounds bad, but the execution actually went pretty damn well. Searching the ice caves with your rad suit slowly running out, killing snowmen and Santa's henchman, then facing Santa yourself, it's just too good. The architecture is excellent as well, and it was never boring. The ending, while it may not be the most original ending, will give a laugh because after all what you've been through, you'll just laugh.

    Overall one of the best joke wads out there. This should be the new standard for joke wads. If you haven't played it yet, what are you waiting for then? Play it, or be a virgin for the rest of your life. If you played it, play it again.

  • Arch-Vile Jump - error aka termrork
    Vanilla - Solo Play - 985856 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Rambosee
    Those who played Cyberdreams (those of you who didn't, get it now) will already know what this megawad will really be about. The point in the levels is to get the keys (usually 3) and to make your way towards the exit. The catch is that the keys (and sometimes the exit) are located in unreachable spots, so you have to get the archviles to blast you to your objective. There are packages of health scattered around the level or specifically, where you have to stand and wait for the blast, acting as a marker. In future levels, the markers disappear and are put somewhere else after you get blasted over a sector. There are also weapons around the area but they will probably will be rarely used. Most of the situations in using the weapons will probably result in 2 archies both about to blast you, and you need to shoot one for a pain chance in order to not suffer more damage and to not get off course by the extra hit.

    The gameplay, let's be honest here, it isn't very good (I'll refrain from saying sucks). The idea is great, but when it is transferred to the editor, not so good. Cyberdreams was successful due to its fast action and never boring gameplay, since the cybers were always willing to make things interesting, and you never knew right away what you had to do. Here, you already know in most of the levels that "There's the archvile, now I just walk over there and it blasts me up." The same thing for pretty much 32 levels got boring, and I stopped in level 09 since I wanted a style change. Most levels you already see almost the whole thing and you already have an idea of what to do, even though you haven't woken up even one archvile. A good wad like Cyberdreams has one idea, but distributes it interestingly all around with various effects including voodoo dolls, making it almost never boring. Here I just don't see that in affect. Some levels were mildly interesting, and then I fell asleep again.

    Overall a pretty bland set of maps that are fairly easy to solve because the levels are just way too predictable. Still, even if the texturing, the maps, and everything else was perfect, the idea itself would make this megawad "below average" because you still know that you have to find the archvile and get it to blast yourself there. If you're a fan of Cyberdreams, give this wad a try, though you won't be playing for long. Otherwise, skip this wad and move on.

The /newstuff Chronicles is written entirely by players like you. Visit the /newstuff Review Center to help out. If you are not a member of the Doomworld Forums, please sign up, because you need an account to submit reviews.

Old Post 03-20-11 02:37 #
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`Damage`
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I realize that the reviewer who reviewed Fusion Mapping didn't use GZDoom (like it specifies in the .txt).

That would explain the misalignments mentioned (which are covered with 3d floors) and possibly some of the continuity issues mentioned.

Old Post 03-20-11 03:23 #
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Jon
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Just stopped by to say: this is the most difficult-to-scan, nigh-on incomprehensible newstuff text I've ever scanned on the DW front page.

Old Post 03-20-11 13:40 #
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Planky
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Just stopped by to say: Doomworld has a frontpage?

Old Post 03-20-11 13:50 #
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Jimi
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Yey, thanks for the review of my level Megamur!

Old Post 03-20-11 14:36 #
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Vorpal
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Jon said:
Just stopped by to say: this is the most difficult-to-scan, nigh-on incomprehensible newstuff text I've ever scanned on the DW front page.


Heh, yeah anything written by alfonzo can just be ignored.

Old Post 03-20-11 14:58 #
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Rambosee
Rambodo


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`Damage` said:
I realize that the reviewer who reviewed Fusion Mapping didn't use GZDoom (like it specifies in the .txt).

That would explain the misalignments mentioned (which are covered with 3d floors) and possibly some of the continuity issues mentioned.

Oh, whoops. I played it now with Gzdoom, and only the 3d floors were fixed, game play was pretty much the same. Try to put more test time into it to balance the difficulties and avoid the custom monsters for now. They have a reputation for getting annoying really fast.

Old Post 03-20-11 15:31 #
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`Damage`
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Well in my defense I had the map posted in a bunch of different places waiting for feedback but didn't really recieve any attention at all.

I personally had no issue when playing through the map, and I played through it several times, but I played on HMP so UV was bound to be pretty unbalanced.

I've made several maps since that map so expect better quality stuff in the future regardless.

Old Post 03-20-11 18:27 #
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david_a


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Rambosee, what port are you using that is creating 48bpp screenshots!?

Old Post 03-20-11 23:40 #
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Vordakk
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Vorpal said:
Heh, yeah anything written by alfonzo can just be ignored.
I'd like to see you produce better prose than St. Alfonzo. Who are you, Ernest Hemingway?

Old Post 03-21-11 00:06 #
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Maes
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Pretty sad issue indeed :-/

I kinda let reviewing slip the last month, but I will do my best to resume (MSc approaching...)

Old Post 03-21-11 02:40 #
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Rambosee
Rambodo


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david_a said:
Rambosee, what port are you using that is creating 48bpp screenshots!?
Zdoom vr 2.5.0, why?

Old Post 03-21-11 03:26 #
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david_a


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That has to be a bug. avj01.png, for example, is 3.3MB for a 1024x819(?) screenshot. I don't understand where those extra 51 vertical pixels come from either.

Old Post 03-21-11 04:15 #
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Bank
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st.alfonzo has quickly become my favorite new forum member and has turned another newstuff I'd never read into something I'd read only for his review.

Old Post 03-21-11 04:56 #
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GreyGhost
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david_a said:
That has to be a bug. avj01.png, for example, is 3.3MB for a 1024x819(?) screenshot. I don't understand where those extra 51 vertical pixels come from either.
That's no bug - according to my calculator it's an uncompressed 32bit image, might as well be submitting BMPs! 1024x819 is a 5x4 aspect ratio resolution and I've yet to encounter hardware that uses it.

Old Post 03-21-11 07:02 #
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Xaser
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st.alfonzo's reviews are the best. Always entertaining to read, I say.

Old Post 03-21-11 08:03 #
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udderdude
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As if you needed more proof Stronghold is badly designed, it's possible to run out of the room after you spring the golem trap before the door closes, and be trapped in the first room forever. There's not even a texture on the closed door from the other side, you just see a hall of mirrors effect.

Also st.alfonzo is a NGJ/Tim Rogers wannabe.

Old Post 03-21-11 17:42 #
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printz
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I'm not attacking st.alfonzo here. MOST reviews have become quite verbose since the newstuff system has been given to the people. Unfortunately there can't be a character limit, because megawads still deserve long reviews -- not the single maps or simple mods though. There's no reliable way to scan the complexity of a WAD included in a released ZIP, to determine the estimated character limit.

Old Post 03-21-11 18:19 #
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NoneeLlama
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I don't think that the Heretic map Stronghold map wad made by Wraith Corporaton.

Best to my knowledge, the guy behing Hell To Pay was someone called Avatar, who did the maps/graphics. He also made Doom Must Fall (some of the custom graphics there were re-used later in H2P, like the rocket launcher and some textures).

Old Post 03-21-11 18:21 #
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Memfis
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Wraith made Hell To Pay

What an educated reviewer we have here.
Seriously, /neswtuff Chronicles needs an editor.

Old Post 03-21-11 18:21 #
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Never_Again
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st.alfonzo can write better than anyone else. The only problem is that he seems too enchanted by the sound of his own voice.


Memfis said:

schmerr's review said:
Wraith made Hell To Pay

What an educated reviewer we have here.


To me it was obvious sarcasm.

Old Post 03-21-11 21:14 #
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DeathevokatioN
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Vordakk said:
I'd like to see you produce better prose than St. Alfonzo. Who are you, Ernest Hemingway?


He can. His AV maps kill Slfonzo's reviews. His AV maps kill your maps. His AV maps kill my maps.


Maes said:
Pretty sad issue indeed :-/

I kinda let reviewing slip the last month, but I will do my best to resume (MSc approaching...)



Yeah please. I really enjoy your reviews.

Last edited by DeathevokatioN on 03-21-11 at 21:39

Old Post 03-21-11 21:32 #
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dew
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DeathevokatioN said:
His AV maps kill Slfonzo's reviews.

and my awesome hair kills your arguments, so stop comparing apples and oranges.

Old Post 03-21-11 22:01 #
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Gez
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Alfonzo's reviews are funny because they are not, actually, well-written.

Which isn't to say they are poorly-written. To the contrary, their problem is that they are too richly-written.

Old Post 03-21-11 22:36 #
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DeathevokatioN
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dew said:

and my awesome hair kills your arguments, so stop comparing apples and oranges.



I wasn't being serious in my last post. ;)

But oranges kill apples, and your hair.

[edit: so that this post isn't completely useless]
Alot of Alfonzo's reviews can be very fun to read, but a few of them have a hard time getting to the point. He is actually one of my favorite reviewers also, but I also really like Brad Spencer maps. :P

Last edited by DeathevokatioN on 03-21-11 at 23:06

Old Post 03-21-11 22:47 #
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Vordakk
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DeathevokatioN said:


He can. His AV maps kill Slfonzo's reviews. His AV maps kill your maps. His AV maps kill my maps.



"Hi my name is DeathevokatioN and I have 'forum regular' written under my screen name. For this reason my opinions are better than yours, as are those of my friends. Also, my friends make better maps than any of you, so you are all TEH SUCK!!! Excuse me, but I have to go back to being awesome in 5 dimensions, buh-bye!"

Old Post 03-22-11 11:33 #
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DuckReconMajor
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Gez said:
Alfonzo's reviews are funny because they are not, actually, well-written.

Which isn't to say they are poorly-written. To the contrary, their problem is that they are too richly-written.

This. I only read st.alfonzo's review. His shtick is gonna get old, but I don't think it has yet. I mean really, a wad coughing up its spleen into a duck pond? Who the hell else writes that?

Old Post 03-22-11 13:20 #
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DeathevokatioN
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Vordakk said:


"Hi my name is DeathevokatioN and I have 'forum regular' written under my screen name. For this reason my opinions are better than yours, as are those of my friends. Also, my friends make better maps than any of you, so you are all TEH SUCK!!! Excuse me, but I have to go back to being awesome in 5 dimensions, buh-bye!"



I haven't played any of your maps.

Old Post 03-22-11 18:45 #
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Snakes
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St. Alfonzo's reviews are entertaining to read. Sometimes, sure, they're vague, but at least they have their own voice. I agree about issues of review length, though. The /newstuff seems to get longer and longer with each release. As much can be said in a well-written paragraph as a long-winded roundabout essay.


Vordakk said:


"Hi my name is DeathevokatioN and I have 'forum regular' written under my screen name. For this reason my opinions are better than yours, as are those of my friends. Also, my friends make better maps than any of you, so you are all TEH SUCK!!! Excuse me, but I have to go back to being awesome in 5 dimensions, buh-bye!"



He already stated he was joking. Whine a little more next time if you'd like to come off as hypersensitive.

Old Post 03-22-11 19:49 #
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kristus
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Drama is back in /newstuff. Once again, the world is safe.

Old Post 03-23-11 02:40 #
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