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Maskim Xul

   (3 reviews)
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A set of Boom-compatible maps for Doom II with a decidedly Lovecraftian theme to the second and third and a fourth to stop the player from advancing. Also a MAP30 to avoid DeHackEd shenanigans.


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NuMetalManiak

  

it seems that in 2018 every cacoward winner has that magnum opus feel to it. Maskim Xul definitely feels like this to a tee, it's Obsidian's longest and nastiest release, shall we break this one down? well, looks like we've got some dehacked work, and again, I'm usually not a fan of this kind of thing since most people don't balance it properly. well, Obsidian thankfully averts that in most cases and doesn't in others. a good chunk of the enemies I don't like do things when in pain chance, that never appeals to me. the acolytes are nice alternatives to the hitscanners, as are the multiple types of souls and the usually-Zdoom enemies. the new weapons are okay, the jackbombs may or may not be fun to use given their range and exceptional damage, the hand of afrit fares a bit better. the BFG replacement is outstanding at the cost of health.

 

level-wise, the first level is a deadly obstacle course, with instakill turrets and lasers meant to test skill. it's not for the faint of heart (BTW this music is Panic from Xenosaga)

 

the main event is MAP02, the big level that is longer than any Eternal Doom level I've ever played, rife with actually creepy combat scenarios , shooting down bells, a maze section where you go on the sides, ceilings, floors, etc., then you have the collecting of "crystals" and skulls. the Grimoire Excidium is in a nice secret and offers some fun combat against a big horde for the taking. the secrets, oh my.

 

the final map is the boss map, and before we get to the main event, there's still some shit to take care of. the tentacles are really fucking annoying since you can't really kill them, the side areas are quite challenging, one is a library section done Hunted-style with plenty of arch-vile combat. the arena itself where Shub-Niggurath is will be a test of mettle, with too many things in this wad being deadly as is (those meteor projectiles from hand of afrit, etc., can really snuff players good), plus it being more than a standard Icon of Sin fight make this one worthy and memorable.

 

there's no denying this wad was completely ambitious, one that is impressive, hard, large, well, I ain't fucking with any more adjectives. it's the download that's worth it.

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JudgeDeadd

  

Excellent atmosphere, awesome visual effects and cool puzzles.

The difficulty has some snags though, health and ammo gets too scarce at the end of map02, the entire library sequence near the end of map03 could really use some more ammo, and the final boss is bullsh*t (especially due to the monster summoning.)

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galileo31dos01

  

First review woo!! anyway...

 

 

Done with these settings:

 

- GLBoom+ 2.5.1.4. complevel 9.

- Ultra-Violence.

- Continuous, basically.

- Saves every 10 minutes or so.

 

Maskim Xul is a masterpiece of a wad, designed for an experience beyond the classic shooter-action style, with its extraordinary puzzle-oriented gameplay. It has a huge emphasis on creepy atmosphere to consistently accompany the adventure and give it a sense of horror/realism, even though it's all mere fictional. In Doom, I could think of "horror" as the most organic theme in the original game, which is flesh. This is where the author expects us to dive in, literally speaking. The player has to escape a techbase, traverse a massive maze of demonic libraries in hope to survive the guardians, immerse into the stomach of something to finally find the source of evil, and defeat it. What makes this wad live for its theme, or at least incredibly creepy, is all the extensive detailing and custom stuff, such as dynamic scenery in the form of pools of flesh, objects you have to interact with like a bell, and floating symbols indicating something special, as well as ingenious ways to darken areas to simulate the transition of one place to another. Besides, multiple sound effects, a great addition to the gameplay. My favourite was the constant sound of flesh stirring, which added a component in combat, making it trickier to keep track of monsters spawning. Of course, not to forget a set of amazing midis, perfect for the mood. 

 

But the wad is not only spooky visuals and dark voices, there's plenty of action to face assuming you're in the mood to take it step by step. It includes the kind of maps that eases you into the core of the gameplay, by introducing the player into an apparently deserted area to encourage exploration, in order to find out the initial task, which gives a general idea of the mapper's design intentions, then the first encounters as warm ups, and continues to open to more and more missions. While the wad has only four maps, each differs from the other in aspects like progression and length, among difficulty. Progression can be described as a tad between vague linearity and faux non-linearity, particularly in the second map, since it's a massive key-hunt full of setpieces in a specific sequence, only requiring heavy exploration instead or room after room. The first and third map are a bit more straightforward, however. The first map is monsterless but not harmless, it's an atypical stunts map where your only enemies are turrets and laser beans, an innovating idea. It's the second map where you meet the new forces of evil, a whole roster of enemies including some of the stock monsters, a few reskinned and modified ones like the cacolich (not as cute as the cacodemon), variations of hell nobles and lost souls, magicians or disciples who might be fragile but own powerful attacks, and more. They aren't hard to figure out if you take your time, I'd say it didn't took much to understand their behavior since their usage is limited to the best, or that's what it seemed to me. The only enemies that were sometimes hard to distinguish were each of the disciples at first sight in darker areas. There're also a few new weapons and pickups: double pistols are always a welcome change; the rocket launcher is now the "Hand of Afrit", it throws mana which deals more damage and feels quite satisfying to steal one from a disciple; jackbombs are hilarious, while powerful they're tricky to use effectively, thus I didn't spend them often enough; finally, the Grimoire is an usual replacement, it's not charged by the typical way, and it's not favorable to abuse of its power, honestly clever design. I should mention that this wad was designed for continuous and balanced in case one chooses to pistol start, the balance seemed to be fine, never felt any starvation. For pickups, keycards are now crystals, the night googles are a torch, and I loved the new Roulette Sphere, an item that will give a random power depending on when you touch it. On another side, combat scenarios include generally incidental ambushes via teleportation, and several set piece battles usually in the context of mini-boss, like the introduction of the lord of heresy, or else in traps involving interesting tricks like surprise jackbombs and explosive skulls together. As I mentioned way above, Maskim Xul comes with ingenious puzzles, of all of them I have to praise the labyrinths of libraries and skull switches, with solutions that require your mind rather than your eyes. None of the puzzles will put in an urge to find cryptic switches, that's left to secrets. 

 

Talking about secrets, in maps like these I'm always glad to explore for high number of hidden goodies. They do require a good eye to catch the hint, you may want to find the super secret fight, it's amazing by the way. I'm not going to talk about the final boss, there're already enough spoilers in this review so far, I'll only say the setup could be a little bit more devilish on ultra-violence, but otherwise an impressive memorable finale. 

 

Overall, this is a piece of uniqueness in the community no one should overlook. I'm hoping someday Obsidian finds time and motivation to deliver another product of this kind, since I'm not aware of many other pwads in Boom format that make extensive use of dehacked in a consistent theme. My rate is going to be a straight 10/10, and I don't care. 

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  • File Reviews

    • By P41R47 · Posted
      To play this mapset properly on vanilla setting i use these files together: batman.wad vbatman.deh original molotov behaviour   I was a kid of around 9 or 10 years old when i first saw images of Batman Doom on some magazines and i rememer thinking ''holly heck, its surelly looks amazing and a Doom clone of Batman surelly will kick-ass''. But for some reason, when i finally got it on a bootleg wad CD-rom, i couldn't play it as intended as it was a break behaviour on vanilla, so i just played it on a source port, zdoom, like ten years after it original release. Be it the port, be it i didn't get much into it at that time, but i didn't enjoyed it much and i quit playing it just when i reach map21.   Now, i replayed it completelly. And certainly, this mapset is pretty advanced for 1999. Maps varies from being pretty short, to awe inspiring big. The texture work is amazing with tons of midtext usage for amazing effects. Every map has it merits, so i will showcase them a little:   -map01: we start on a rooftop, as our dark night is shown on every issue cover since it first appeared. After that, we jump to the street level and after taking some thugs, we take a subway to a different part of the city. The subway effect is just amazing, making you really feel like taking a train. After that we take down the gang leader and the maps ends. -map02: this is one of the most innovative things i've seen, especially made on a mapset from 1999, and this is non less than a Hub map. Yes, we see here the next objetive, take some health some ammo, a little secret, and then we go out onto the next crime thug on the run. Here start the episode of Killer Croc. More mapset needs something like this for awesome inmersion. Only other one i know that use something similar is Back To Saturn X made almost 13 years later, so yes, this was pretty advance for the time. -map03: we go down the sewers following the trail of Killer Croc, and we found some thugs down there, too. Theare are a lot of neat tricks in here. Thugs coming out of water and spilling it around, flowing water sound, raising water, some of the best looking fake 3D bridges. But there are also a few flaws, like an unobtaibale secret near the start, and some bumpty walk through the sewer area. -map04: is a Killer Croc's chase through some building complex and into the forest. Killer Croc fight is an outstanding moment, as it can really take the rocks from the ground and throw them to the player. Amazing dehacked work.   -map05 we returned to the batcave for the next mission briefing, and it seems Tally Man is on the loose. -map06: we are now in Chinatown and we are able to look at first hand the warring conflict between two gangs groups. It ends with a colloseum fight with two gang leaders. -map07: Tally Man is escaping on a helicopter and we need to find our way to chase him. There are a lot of verticallity in this map, and its quite awesome at the end how we board a helicpter and have to fight our way with a lot of minions on a really tight space. -map08: we reach Tally Man's hideout an its non other than an abandoned factory. The map is big and there are a lot of interesting sights for sure. The combat is tighter and difficult here, too, with not only hitscanners all around, but also incoming projectiles from different sides. The fight with Tally Man at the end is just awesome.   -map09: we are now again at the batcave, and we notice that the Penguin has a big criminal output. -map10: Oswal Cobblepot's casino is full of thigs and corrupt gaming, and after making some thugs speak, we found that the Penguin has taked hostage a whole hospital. We need to rescue them. -map11: but it was a trap!!! There is gas leaking on the whole hospital, and there are automated bomb penguins setting everything on fire as we move on. -map12: we finally found the trail of the penguin, but we reach to late to the rooftop, he already boarded the hellicopter. To our surprise, he challenge us to a fight. Exploding penguins around and a flying machine coming for us with only a thin spot to cover.   -map13: we return to the batcave after seizing the penguin, and we found that the Scarecrow is rampaging through the city tunnels. -map14: we are on abridge leading to the tunnels of the city, and there are TNT bundles all around, destroying walls, and a lot of deadly traps taht can kill you on the spot. Scarecrow certainly is making his trail hard to follow. -map15: we reached a house of fear, and the scarecrow is hiding on it, but he also take Mayor Kroll as hostage and we need to rescue him before its too late. There are really awesome dehacked trick here. Like firebreathing walls that hit really hard, and the final fight against the Scarecrow with the Mayor in the middle, if he dies we lose. -map31: We defeated the Scarecrow but as soon as we are returning to the batcave there is call for help. The scarecrow escaped and is hiding on the city. We need to find him, but he is trickier than the last fight, he spreaded his confucing gas all around and we are under his illusion. -map32: we fall under the illusion of the Scarecrow and we are now being attacked by strange creatures on a surrealistic landscape. Awesome sight for sure, but really short map. -map16: thats it, we finally snaped from scarecrow trick and we follow his trail through a cornfield. But at last, we finally seized him.   -map17: we return to the batcave just to learn that Two-Face has breakout from Blackgate prison and we need to stop him. -map18: difficult ramp from here and on, tighter spaces, island prison, new flamethrower enemy. The area is full of really neat sights, unfortunatelly we are late, Two-Face already escaped into the city. -map19: We arrive too late to the city, Two-Face already robbed a bank and go away with all the money. -map20: we are on the trail of Two-Face and we are up to catch him once for all. After fighting some thugs through the city, we caught Two-Face red handed and he face us with his rocket launcher. Fortunatelly, we made him explode himself.   -map21: the crime lords are getting tougher, and we found at the bat cave that the Joker is planning something big. We need to find out what.
      -map22: gigantic abandoned factory map, awesome sights, marvelous details, and an ending that just made my jawd drop. At the end, we have to detonate a TNT to cross, but the chain reaction is bigger than we though and we need to reatreat hastly before the explosion kills us. Just amazing use of the IOS explosion effect. -map23: the Joker seized a whole mansion and is having fun there, we need to stop him. -map24: We found that the Joker has taken a whole theatre for his own amusement, and at the end we fight him but we are not able to seize him as a lot of thugs jump into the fight to stop us. -map25: the Joker run away into the Gotham Cathedral, and at last we are able to seize him once and for all.   -map26: we return to the bat cave and found that Bane has breaked into an armory. -map27: the armory hit was just a decoy, we are now to late for the bigger treat Bane is planning. -map28: Bane break into the Arkham Asylum and let loose all the crime lords we captured, so we face Killer Croc, Two-Face and Tally Man on a rematch. -map29: we continue throught all the destroyed corridors of Arkham Asylum and we fight the Penguin, Scarecrow, and The Joker once again. -Map30: Bane break through our mansion, he knows who we are, and he challenge us to a final hand to hand combat. He is fierce and deadlier as a raging bull, but after a long fight, we defeat him.   From the description we can see that maps are mostly linear, but there are too many neat details and secrets that let us spend time exploring around that we doesn't feel at all the maps being linear. In fact, there are a lot of interesting details to look into that we can lose a good chunck of time on just one map, even when it is kinda short. The sense of adventure on this mapset is something that must be experienced. All the changes make for a total inmersion like just a few other mapsets offer.   After all, this is an amazing Total Conversion, and it surelly deserves to be among the best outputs from this community. 
    • By Argenteo · Posted
      The last chapter was the one I had less memories, perhaps because it's tough. A good time playing.
      Beat it. Everybody frag now. Vangelis. Cool midis.
    • By Argenteo · Posted
      A lot better sights and tougher than S1, with another pack of cute midis. 
    • By P41R47 · Posted
      Pretty entertaining and challenging mapset. The maps start in a somewhat heretic or cave theme at first, and with a really abstract style with just tiny little realistic details. It use TNT as iwad and there are just a few maps with name patches. The rest and the text screens are the ones from TNT. The story is interesting: Serena, B.J. Blazkowicz's wife, worried that, after the incident on 20 Days In Hell (but it could be also after Doom 2 final map), he hasn't returned home yet. So she decide to go search for him. In the proces she found that every map we play is an hour of torture for her husband, and thats from where the title 32 Hours of Pain come. Thematically, the maps use the TNT skies to tell the story, starting with Serena on earth, vayaging throught space on map12 to map20, and reaching hell where her husband is being tortured on map21 to map30   Maps have a good gameplay, and the little and few details really stand out from the abstract design, like in map11 the ship sailing out to space. The design varies from really large and big open areas to really cramped and difficult to traverse tunnels and areas. Thus, it somehow really grasp the TNT feel and style. This also implies, sometimes, obscure progression and switch hunting. The texturing is varied, from monotexturing to using different themes like starbase and marble on the same map, especially on those where the hellish influece is seen as bigger.   I really enjoyed it! Its not a masterpiece, but it certaily has a charm and offers a good challenge. Kristian Aro's story, maybe i'm wrong with this, was use as a base for 2002: A Doom Odyssey later as its pretty similar. This mapset is kinda analogue to Paul Corfiatis The Twilight Zone. Both follow a free thematic texturing from map to map, both have a story mostly told throught little details (TTZ has a proper mapinfo on it, though) and both shows the first mapping efforts of their respective authors and how the ideas here lead to their later awesome mapsets.   I recommend it to anyone who is seeking abstract design and challenge.
    • By Meddy · Posted
      Short, but pretty well done. The best custom Hexen levels I played so far.
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