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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 Spectre01 · Posted
      Long, grindy, and generally low-threat slaughter. Combat choreography is largely absent and the majority of the map is occupied by clusters of the same monster blocking your path. Speaking of blocking, monster block lines are often employed in strange ways, allowing the player to door and hallway camp the enemy hordes. Potentially deadly traps are neutered by frequent invul spheres which enable trivial BFG facerolling. Detailing ain't too hot either, with the majority consisting of monotextured square rooms and hallways. Some cool sector work is present among the minimalism and the scale of the final area is certainly impressive (the 300+ Cacos which take years to float into firing range, less so). If you want to spend over an hour spamming BFG and rockets, I suggest you play (or replay) Cybersky instead by the same author - it looks and plays better. 2/5
    • By Juza · Posted
      Frankly, if you're looking for more Plutonia, this isn't the deal. It's very different, but it's still very good in every aspect. I'd recommend it not for having the Plutonia name in its title, but for being such a good wad in itself.   Being that this was made by a lot of people™, it'd be impossible to talk about how each map performed, but they all pretty much draw resemblance to each other, while also possessing some of the designers' unique quirks visibly into them. Nothing's perfect, so there's a handful of levels that either aren't made for most people or straight up suck (like MAP15, and, arguably, 25).   Every level is challenging, even more so than the original Plutonia ones, though it still possesses Plutonia's design of combat of placing the player between a rock and a hard place in nearly every area, sometimes executed poorly, like trial and error, which can feel unfair.     Visibly beautiful and playfully slaughterful, fitting with its great soundtrack.
    • By rdwpa · Posted
      Pagan's Run is a lengthy "Run From It"-style map. "It" isn't the silent curse of that infamous Scythe map, however, but rather lethal threats located in the map itself. Caged cyberdemons pump rockets into your butt, and pesky fodder loiters in your path, which once in a blue moon is flattened by a crusher or narrowed into a Chasm-like sliver. Most of the tests over the 2.5-minute trial are fundamentally similar, testing consistency through repetition, but they evolve and morph into different forms: At first you're shooing zombies with shotgun blasts, soon you're navigating barrel clusters with spiders trying to show you love, by the end you're cleaving through greeting mobs with plasma, cybies looking on.    At best, I found Pagan's Run exciting and inventive, and I love movement test maps. But implementation flaws were too common -- potential linedef skips, floors with a fluky chance of not rising if blocked by a monster, and a late unguided drop seemingly designed for freelook. The latter hurts FDA value even on lower difficulties. On UV early, hitscan RNG was disproportionately impactful even with perfect shots. HNTR and HMP seem better. 
    • By rdwpa · Posted
      This one is fascinating. It's a squiggly techbase full of wacky oldschool angles drawn off-grid. The design has a lawless '90s vibe of "appealing ugliness," but with a higher detail level that befits its actual release date (the current Doomworld Files screenshot doesn't reflect this). The mapper clearly had an education in craft, shown by skillfully intricate use of the sky horizon trick and other effects. It reminded me of Didy's mapping in a few places.   Runtime was unexpectedly short, under 15 minutes for me. Many of the 200-odd monsters appear in messy but satisfying brawls, using lots of low-tiers with bulkier stuff tossed in for emphasis. The balance is very lenient and favors near-total dominance of the SSG, once you are equipped with it. Power weapons exist but are provisioned stingily.
    • By antares031 · Posted
      - Above average and interesting map design! - All maps keep the theme of the episode, thus constant. I can remember every unique map. New custom textures were used in all maps, which resulted in a beautiful look throughout the whole megawad. A few maps are just empty, because they were designed to get you out of their stations connect the levels as a hub area, giving you an interesting experience with progression. - Designer had a great idea to finish the wad in MAP25, which is phenomenal under vanilla limitations. - Above average gameplay. Trying to create a great gameplay experience, the designer put A LOT of interesting, but challenging encounters. - Such a memorable ending. Seriously, just download this wad and check it out for yourself.
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