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The /newstuff Chronicles #434

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  • wastes - mrhtejoshmon
    Doom 2 - ZDoom - Solo Play - 197466 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Creaphis
    "Wastes" is a low-poly, wide-open playground. You can go anywhere in the map right off the hop, but if you rush into the action without watching your flanks you'll suffer for it when an unnoticed chaingunner or arachnotron gets a lock on you. The successful player is the one that can strike a balance between caution and bloodthirst.

    What's impressive for a single-room map like this is that every part of it has its own gameplay and its own feel to it.

    A few things about this map felt ineffective. The textfile says "jumping and crouching required" but I really don't think that they are. Jumping lets you grab a few extra chainguns, but whenever you use your l33t jumping sk1llz to explore the map's high ground you'll be disappointed, if you don't get yourself stuck entirely. Also, cleaning up scattered lost souls and bumping into stealth imps are both more annoying than threatening.

    mrhtejoshmon recommends using Brutal Doom to play this, and its cornucopia of killing methods should go well with this map's sandbox gameplay.

  • Fernito's Phobos base - Fernito
    Ultimate Doom - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 3379835 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Creaphis
    The readme states this is Fernito's first foray into Doom mapping, and there are a few hallmarks of that right off the bat: glitched textures, some needlessly cramped spaces, and a demon stuck in a lamp post. Let's not get this review started on the wrong foot, though, because by the time E1M2 rolls around, those issues are already sorted out. This becomes an impressive and sophisticated episode 1, yet remains faithful to the original. If that piques your interest and you want to know more, then that's what all these words are for:

    VISUALS: Lots of attention seems to have been given to lighting in particular, which breathes life into the Phobosian geometry and texturing. The architecture opens up more and more starting on level 2, and an effort has been made to make maps resemble their official names in a slightly less abstract way. Fernito has also modified some of Doom's animated textures to add a bit of visual variety; unfortunately, something got garbled in the process and you'll have to play this in a ZDoom-based port for all textures to render correctly.

    GAMEPLAY: This mod sticks to the original episode 1 arsenal and bestiary, but that doesn't hold it back. The monster count and placement are handled well to minimize tedium, with relatively few demons soaking up your shotgun ammo. Fernito favours threatening combinations of imps and hitscanners, which are usually pretty quick and fun to knock over. The size and difficulty of these encounters both ramp steadily upwards as the episode goes on, leading to a nasty conclusion.

  • Hexen DeathMatch V 1.1 - The_Spartan
    Heretic - Skulltag / Zandronum - Deathmatch - 873435 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Creaphis
    The readme claims that this is the "first DeathMatch dedicated Hexen wad in history!" While that isn't true, imagine if it were? What a grave responsibility that would be. If I found myself in the position to introduce the idea of Hexen deathmatch to the world, I think I would want to emphasize Hexen's unique strengths for competitive gameplay. For instance, the class system could be a source of interest, as the strengths of one class's stats and arsenal could play off the weaknesses of another. Also, each class's weapons could spawn in different areas, adding nuance to the problems of map control. Sadly, The_Spartan screwed that pooch before it left the pet shop by flattening the classes into a single supertype, which can use all the weapons in the game. Perhaps some of these maps are still worth playing on their own merits?

    MAP01: Too small, exposed and spammy even for duels. There are too many levers which lower too many platforms with too many weapons to keep track of, and they're all moot anyway because the most effective weapon here (firestorm) is also the most accessible. HOM in software mode.

    MAP02: Better duel map. Again, too many spammy weapons available everywhere. There's just one superweapon up on a pillar this time: wraithverge, which probably isn't worth the trouble since players can outrun the wraiths or send them back at you with repulsion. Or they'll just kill you with firestorm.

    MAP03: Clumsy as hell duel map with a mazey library theme. Laugh as each time you kill your opponent he either spawns in the one dead end or the other dead end.

    MAP04: Clumsy, tree-filled graveyard for 2, maybe 3 players. Better (i.e. less excessive) weapon distribution. The trees block projectiles so the winning strategy might be hide behind them and zap your sapphire wand like a dink. Or you can just burn them out of the way with firestorm.

    MAP05: Gimmick layout where bars raise and lower on a slow-ass timer, closing off major portions of the level. I hope you like waiting.

    Nope, doesn't look like it :(

  • Dark Tartarus: Dead Tonight - lihanchi
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 58873501 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: sgt dopey
    Dark Tartarus: Dead Tonight is a large collection of slaughtermaps by lihanchi. By large I mean 57 (compressed) megabytes large. Enough complaining, now on to the levels.

    There are 45 new levels (each with their own MP3, OGG, or tracker module for music) of unrestrained slaughter map action. Now I'm not a person for slaughtermaps, but honestly, even for a slaughtermap the enemy placement is awful. For example, on the first map there are 4 or 5 ledges FULL of arch viles (on UV) and there is also another in a secret at the start of the level (which is a big no-no for me). I didn't get to finish any levels without cheating or getting bored and quitting. The levels themselves range from being average looking to looking good.

    If you're a hardcore Doomer who has a thing for slaughtermaps and thousands of imps, this mapset is for you.

  • Compound - mrthejoshmon
    Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 92835 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Creaphis
    About 5-10 minutes' worth of light, uncomplicated action. There's a nice chaingun opening, and a few hell knights in spaces that just barely aren't too tight, like a well-fitting corset. The architecture is simple yet varied, and it's varied yet thematically consistent. This seems to be mrthejoshmon's particular talent. If you need me to spell it out for you: play it.

    Note: This map is slotted on MAP03 so that you can load it together with mrthejoshmon's Water Treatment Plant (MAP01) and Incubator (MAP02) for the intended experience.

  • MPBASE - Maarten Pinxten
    Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 45720 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Creaphis
    It's difficult to date this wad. The timestamp says 1998, but those can't always be trusted, the dastardly things. Considering that the editor used to make it was already available in early 1994, and that the readme doesn't even specify whether this mod is for Doom 1 or 2 (it's for Doom 1 by the way), I believe that this could be some truly pioneering work here.

    For an 1994 wad it's an excellent piece, with relatively complex lighting and structural design which would be a pain in the ass to create back in the day. It has an exploratory feel, with many ideas that were likely added in because "wouldn't it be cool if." It's a thematic mish-mash to be frank, but at least Maarten Pinxten had the courtesy to separate styles with doorways and elevators. It's also very easy - I exited with 200 health and armour and an unused plasma rifle - but the secrets are clever and fun to hunt for.

  • MPSNEAK - Maarten Pinxten
    Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 42882 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Creaphis
    Another mysterious Doom 1 mod from Maarten Pinxten, possibly of 1994 vintage. This one is much more non-linear, with a number of paths you can take right off the bat. That doesn't serve it very well, though, as all the monsters will be found and killed before you know it, and then there's nothing left to do but run around the map, plugging keys into doors and opening up now-useless secrets. This map has another wide variety of themes, styles and structures, including the obligatory '94 maze. If you play one Pinxten map this week, make it the other one.

  • arttu98's DM level - Techbase - arttu98
    Doom 2 - Skulltag / Zandronum - Deathmatch - 125722 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Creaphis
    A first duel map featuring Skull- sorry, Zandronum weapons. There are a few odd design decisions. You're forced into orbiting the level in a counter-clockwise circuit since there's a teleporter and a vent that can only be passed in one direction. This lends itself to camping in a few places, since you always know where your opponent is coming from. There's also a grenade launcher surrounded by tortuously carved floors that make using it suicidally unpredictable. Decor is inconsistent, with the Tormentor-esque indoors contrasting a single-sector "outdoor" area. I wish arttu98 better luck with his next attempt.

  • Love you with poison - Memfis
    Doom 2 - PrBoom+ - Solo Play - 181963 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Creaphis
    We've seen it a million times. A new map loads and you immediately get an eyeful of imp posterior. For some reason, they're all completely oblivious to the marine's arrival, as if the single entrance to their domain isn't even worthy of their attention. They just stand there, rhythmically flexing their glutes, forever.

    That's not what you'll see here, for two reasons. One: this mod needs to be loaded after Survive in Hell to take advantage of its DeHackEd-style custom monsters. To get more mileage out of Doom's limited frames, SiH's author stripped out the monsters' extraneous idle sequences, so instead of walking in place, dormant monsters are completely still and eerily statuesque. Two: as soon as you map loads, you need to move. Everything is awake and wants to kill you, preferably right now.

    This map is relentless. Your lust for weapons and keys will get you into trouble time and time again. Each trap has you fighting for your life, typically in a small but complex arena. This level is also just a little bit puzzley, with a trick jump necessary to progress (and there's also an intentional speedrun shortcut if you're into that kind of thing). A few moments can be overwhelming depending on your experience. An early fight replaces almost all your maneuverable territory with nukage and introduces three new custom monsters all at once. If you're already familiar with SiH, then great, but otherwise it's tricky to figure out three new monsters' attack patterns under that kind of pressure. This map definitely isn't for everyone, but if you enjoyed JC's Survive in Hell, then I think you'll like Memfis' take on it.

  • Dance The Cyborg - Michael Jan Krizik (valkiriforce)
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 61444 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Creaphis
    A birthday map from valkiriforce/Rizera, for 1ntru. It's a challenge in that special way that can only be achieved with lazy balancing. There are a few interesting encounters, like the one the map starts with that has you dodging three mancubuses to press switches to open the path to an SSG. Later, the map suddenly decides to become a slaughtermap for two fights, and you don't get any health in between them. The rest is a cakewalk by comparison.

    Visually, there's not a lot here; the architecture is too simple and abstract to be of interest to the human brain. However, the formless structures lend themselves to the unpredictable gameplay - you really never know which walls are going to open up and spit monsters at you.

  • Mill 2 - Craig
    Evilution - Vanilla - Solo Play - 191800 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Creaphis
    This map bills itself as a sequel to TNT's Mill, though I'd really call it more of a remake, just to be pedantic. This is Mill: HD Edition. All of Mill's more recognizable structures and set pieces are recreated here, but spiced up so that Dario Casali's grandchildren can also enjoy it.

    The gameplay is lively but not stressful. It's definitely more challenging than the original map, but there are enough resources to get you through. If you're familiar with TNT you'll sometimes know what to expect, but Six knows that you know and plays with your expectations.

    This wad has excellent vanilla-compatible decor. Six uses lighting sector effects subtly and frequently which is the right way to do it. He's also tossed in a rarely-used texture bleeding effect which you'll need a software renderer to see. The funny thing about this map is that because it adheres so carefully to Mill's look and feel, you don't even realize how drastic the visual upgrade is until you compare it side-by-side with the original. Suddenly, Mill just looks so drab.

  • Chaos Deathmatch - Captain Toenail
    Heretic - ZDoom Compatible - Deathmatch - 260174 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Creaphis
    Captain Toenail was aware of the game he was developing for, which shouldn't deserve special mention, but this is something mappers so often get wrong. Because most of Heretic's weapons are projectile based, and few deliver a one-hit kill, Heretic DM is largely about outmaneuvering and wearing down your opponent. To suit that play style, these maps are designed openly with multiple escape routes from every spot, but not so open that a player using hitscan weapons has an unfair edge. Heretic's strengths are absolutely on display here - the game of trapping your enemies is naturally complemented by Heretic's items, which have been placed well. Wall your enemy in with time bombs and catch him off guard with a morph ovum. Activate your shadowsphere and charge straight through his phoenix bolts. Or, just grab the tome of power and kill him the old fashioned way.

    E1M1 is a tight but flowing, decentralized map for 2 players, one cat and one mouse. It's my favourite in the set as the gameplay is the most cerebral. Maps E1M2 through E1M5 are aggressive, 2-person fragfests with easily-accessible tomes of power. E1M3 has a nook that only chickens can enter which probably won't affect gameplay all that often, so I guess you can call it an "Easter ovum." E1M5 is more oriented towards sniping with two dragon claws available across an open arena. E1M6 provides table service for three.

    My only complaint is that some cool Heretic stuff never appears, namely firemaces and chaos devices, but you can't rightly fault a Doom deathmatch wad for not having any BFGs or invisibility spheres, so Chaos Deathmatch gets a pass from me. Also working in this wad's favour is the relative lack of Heretic DM wads available. This one might be your best bet.

  • Mountain Gorge - Michael Jan Krizik (valkiriforce)
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 212563 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Creaphis
    Mountain Gorge is about thirty minutes of pseudo-slaughter from valkiriforce. I say "pseudo" because this map is all over the place in gameplay style, and its difficulty curve could stymie an experienced mountaineer. It ranges from casual extermination to white-knuckle slaughter to wars of attrition, when the health supply suddenly drops to zero. I'm going to hazard a guess that this is less of a deliberate design decision and more of an accident, because some things simply don't make sense. Following the intended path of the level you'll find two megaarmors without even a single health bonus in between. Meanwhile, you have no choice but to telefrag two pain elementals and suffer heavy damage from the souls that pop out of both. Of course, if you find the BFG secret the difficulty curve will scale down to something resembling the foothills from "Sound of Music," but that's a far larger effect than any single secret should ever have and I skipped it on principle.

    Visually, this map's man-made areas are reasonably attractive, especially considering that valkiriforce appears to have stayed within vanilla limits. The organic areas are much more plain, and a bit more sculpting of the sky-high cliffsides could have gone a long way.

  • Forseen (Alpha v0.1) - Apen Sakazi
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 27547 bytes - (img)
    Reviewed by: BloodyAcid
    A "test" level that consists of three small rooms, seven monsters and thirty seconds of gameplay. You grab a shotgun, pump some shells and it's over, all while listening to a poor rendition of Skyrim's main theme via MIDI. Oh, and there's no exit either.

  • Ancient Beliefs - Jonathan Bergeron
    Doom 2 - Skulltag / Zandronum - Solo Play - 67777 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Creaphis
    A simple, earnest first map from Jonathan Bergeron. A few environments, gameplay concepts and scripts are explored and then it's done, the mapper's feet sufficiently wet at this point. Going over this level with a fine-toothed comb probably isn't the right way to appreciate it, so I'm curbing my nit-picky impulses for now. It's very playable, quickly scaling up to a multi-stage arena fight and then scaling right back down. If first wads aren't your thing, then just look at the screenshots, nod your head, and smile.

    Note: This level is recommended to be played with Brutal Doom, and requires Zandronum due to a thing tagging error that other ports don't put up with.

Let me guess; one of those reviewers doesn't know how to properly appreciate a WAD that you liked this week. Want to do something about it? Instead of complaining in the comment thread like you always do, perhaps you can make a difference and write some better reviews than those idiots up there. The /newstuff Review Center is the place to do so. Put that Doomworld Forums account to constructive use, because you need one to submit reviews.

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Don't thank me. I'm doing this purely for my own amusement.

Something happened to the screens for Mountain Gorge, but I've already got them uploaded in a .zip here.

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Snagged one review spot. Wooooo

See you folks again in Crepahistuff Vol. 2, coming to a DW near you in a few weeks.

Edit: Just wondering, but where's that usual comment at the end of every "newstuff" edition?

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Creaphis said:

Something happened to the screens for Mountain Gorge, but I've already got them uploaded in a .zip here.

Try to make sure your filenames are lowercase, including the extensions.

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wow, what a load of creaphy reviews! a fine read, i like how creaphis avoids falling into a reviewing schema.

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Now I'm not a person for slaughtermaps, but honestly, even for a slaughtermap the enemy placement is awful.

1) Why would you pick an updated version of a 45 map long, already reviewed slaughterish megawad if you already know you don't like those kind of maps?

2) "even for a slaughtermap the enemy placement is awful" - heh.

Dark Tartarus is no second coming of Erik Alm, but it seems like it's always reviewed by someone who has their opinion made up before playing it and can't even bother to mention the distinctive parts. Glancing at the text file, looks like he added a bunch of new monsters, weapons, items and classes. Seems like the kind of information worth mentioning in a review, if only to say it's there, but preferably to be more descriptive about the implementation.

Anyway, thanks for reviewing it at all if nothing else because I had no clue there was an updated version available.

Edit: much of this wad is not my thing either, so it's not like I'm any more qualified to comment on it, but anyway:

There's 4 extra player classes, each starting with their own special weapon with infinite ammo, and an ability on a timer (i.e. a dash forward or an extra blast). All of them move much slower than the thankfully included marine we're used to, so I just stuck to that one.

The new monsters are all over the place, theme-wise. You see anything from Shadow Warrior coolies to Realm667 BFG guys to Duke3D aliens, with the odd giant zombieman thrown in there. It doesn't really fit visually.

The new maps are more of the same brand of mapping displayed in the first Dark Tartarus. That is, they're various random ideas, sometimes fairly inventive or impressive, but often lacking in execution. In SP, anyway. In some situations you can just see as you go through it how much better it would work in coop, and the recommended port being Zandronum, it's likely this is the primary focus of the wad.

I thought TAT37 was pretty creative and would recommend anyone interested in trick/slaughter maps check it out (can't really elaborate without spoiling the whole thing).

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Phml said:

1) Why would you pick an updated version of a 45 map long, already reviewed slaughterish megawad if you already know you don't like those kind of maps?

Because he's was doing his duty! I've been skipping a few wads that aren't really my cup o' tea, including that one. Everyone's welcome to check the queue and fill the gaps in my considerable expertise.

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Phml said:

1) Why would you pick an updated version of a 45 map long, already reviewed slaughterish megawad if you already know you don't like those kind of maps?

Because it's so easy to attract your attention with such reviews.

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printz said:

Because it's so easy to attract your attention with such reviews.

Negative attention is typically a terrible reason to do something.

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I found Dark Tartarus confusing and unplayable trollbait, but maybe I'm just crap at maps where you immediately fly up to the ceiling because two hundred Arch-Viles set you on fire.

The Love You With Poison review (what a fantastic name) led me to download and play the Survive in Hell megawad which completely blew me away, no pun intended. Looking forward to playing LYWP after I kick SiH's arse.

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It's refreshing to see the review queue move so fast. Congratulations and thanks, Creaphis and others. It's nice to finally take a look at these maps whose names have been tantalizing us for weeks. (No thanks to idiot trolls who spam every other WAD on /idgames with reviews saying "Terrywad".)

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When is #435 coming out (assuming there are currently enough reviews to make one, most of them by Creaphis)?

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Since this edition was just released, I'd say about a week?

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