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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 guitardz · Posted
      Some very cool techbases with a nice texture set and pallette.  The music is pretty epic.  And it all runs in vanilla! (Or so it is said, I played it in GZDoom)
    • By Philnemba · Posted
      I honestly can't believe that this whole megawad is 100% vanilla compatible and its only the first of THREE episodic megawads! Esselfortium and her team of creative energetic mappers has done an amazing job from the unique texture set, the music, the maps & even the tweaked color palette that fits the mood of the whole thing.    100% highly recommended! 5/5 
    • By Erick · Posted
      A pretty straightforward map to run through, packing in tons of enemies in rooms both big and small. Most of the monsters you'll be killing are E1 monsters such as Zombiemen and Imps, so while there isn't much in monster variety, there are plenty of ways to get them to fight each other which I like. It might be better to try and get as many monsters to start attacking at the same time since once you get the Chaingun, not even the groups of Spectres are much of a threat. Overall though, the map is still fun to blast through if you just want to kill tons of monsters in packs.
    • By NuMetalManiak · Posted
      this is a strange wad, with assets similar to Darkest Hour and other Star Wars-themed wads, many of the maps focus on small killings, as most of the maps are actually small. Pinchy's finale sure makes this worth it. oh yeah, quite a few custom stuff was done. the flamethrower marines were quite annoying, while other monsters gained multiple attacks, new ones, it's all so zany. the maps are pretty well done overall and this is worth a try.
    • By Doomkid · Posted
      Okay, I get it, it's a megawad mainly for speedrunners who are intricately familiar with the mechanics of the game down to the nitty-gritty. A series of challenges/obstacles that, for the most part, seem to be possible but are generally ludicrous (and sometimes outright laughable, in a good way).   This was is not a "pile of junk" as a few have said however it's really, really lacking in a lot of ways. I get that the wad is meant to have a fun-and-not-serious tone despite it's overall extreme difficulty but the texturing looks like the insides of a toilet bowl after a Taco Bell buffet. Seriously, these maps are jealous of how beautiful and futuristic maps like UAC_DEAD look. The DWANGO series looks like fucking Ancient Aliens compared to this.   The MIDIs are lighthearted, silly and fun, which adds a layer of appeal for me personally. I loved seeing Patrick Stewart at the intermission too, rofl   I had some fun with this IDCLEVing through the whole wad and giving each map a try or 2 before moving on to the next but I seriously doubt I'll ever be back. The same idea with better texturing and overall taking itself just a tiny bit more seriously would warrant a higher rating. Ass-ugly texturing, silly MIDIs and a silly titlepic/interpic are fun in their own right so don't take me the wrong way but a lot of it crossed into "looks like the authors gave 0 fucks" category and I just have to take points away for that.   Also,   lol wtf is this bullshit is this a terrywad or somethin i mean jeeeezus   Overall, this is worth a peek just for some fun but unless you're a highly skilled speedrunner that also doesn't mind looking into a crapchute map after map, this probably doesn't really have much for you.
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