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The /newstuff Chronicles #449

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  • Hexen 1.1 to 1.0 binary patch - Mike Swanson
    Hexen - Vanilla - N/A - 1261816 bytes
    Reviewed by: kmxexii
    This is a binary patch that "downgrades" your Hexen 1.1 IWAD to the 1.0 version, mainly to reintroduce some of the resources that Raven left in before they were pruned in the new version, like the maze map. The patch requires a fresh install of Hexen v1.1 and needs to be run in some kind of DOS shell. I ran the utility in DOSbox over a copy of a fresh download from Steam. That might not be the exact target directory, but it worked insofar as I ended up with a 1.0 IWAD. I don't know about the minor differences, but the two big differences were reintroduced. The weird-ass maze level is definitely present and playable, and the sequence break in the Castle of Grief hub with the porkelator is available again.

    The patch didn't run as smoothly as I would have liked, but I was a piece of shit that ran it over a Steam install, so I wasn't expecting sunshine and rainbows. It gave me three incorrect file versions on files I don't know about, maybe due to using a Steam install, patched a file (presumably the IWAD), and then hung up. The important thing to me is that it gave me a 1.0 IWAD as promised, so that's cool! Enjoy your Hexen "downgrade".

  • Aftermath Oldschool Duel - Ian "Fragmare" McPherson
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Deathmatch - 1733560 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Doomkid92
    Aftermath OS Duel is an 11-map pack by the long-time Doomer and mapper Fragmare. Featuring great remakes from his 1996 wad "The Final Frag" as well as brand new, shiny and beautiful duel maps, this pack is sure to please anyone looking for a fast-paced and very bloody frag-fest.

    There's a lot of variety here. Tech bases, desolate planet surfaces, icy caverns, as well as oldschool, well-detailed DM arenas. Although this is a duel pack, some maps would work wonderfully for 4 players. Worth nothing, the MIDI files chosen are nice on the ears. No bloated mp3 files here either, which is always a plus.

    My personal favorite map is #3 - a small, rocky, bright orange arena that looks like the surface of mars. This is one of the the most fun duel maps I've ever played, honestly - it's very fast, very tactical and it's orange! What's not to love?

    There are also maps that are homages to Judas23, D5M1 and SSL; all three of them put Hexen and Quake textures to very good use.

    All in all, if you love deathmatch / duels, you should get this right now. You'll be glad you did!

  • Deathmatch hell - Dark711
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Deathmatch - 17209 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Edward850
    If what you're looking for is a straightforward and to-the-point deathmatch map to pass the time, then this map certainly provides that. And that's what a group of us were looking for, so we grabbed it and decided to give it a spin.

    It's a small map for about 2 – 4 people, however for 2 people it would be small enough, as 4 people will not give you that much of a breather at all. Although if what you want is a very fast and quick deathmatch, that's hardly a problem.

    It's not poorly detailed. Nothing clashes at least (or at least too badly), although the walls are a tad on the square side. Oddly enough, some textures were missed on the outside gate, which somehow only got said gate textures on the side you never see.

    The SSG is treated as a power weapon hidden behind some crushers, which is an interesting change. It gets grouped with some blue armour however, which does make stopping someone with the only SSG in the map only easily possible at the crushers if you can hold a player in them. The plasma gun exists just outside of the key choke point of the map, and despite the apparently random chance of the door opening that reveals it (it's actually tied to an SSG pickup behind a crusher trap, which we didn't really go for often), said plasma gun very quickly becomes over powered due to the tight quarters. The rocket launcher at least doesn't have this problem, due to the limited ammo supply and the same close quarters which can make it dangerous to use.

    As a note, either through lack of knowledge or just plain rushing the map, it looks like the author tried this in GZDoom and Zandronum, found it worked and called it a day without figuring out what the actual limits are. You see, despite this being made for GZDoom, it's actually just a Doom format map. In fact it even runs in Vanilla Doom, sans accidentally giving his outside walls no texture at all (which only works in OpenGL due to the way skies work in said renderer).

    Issues aside, we did actually have fun playing this. It's worth a try if you are just looking for a quick deathmatch at the least.

  • Two Wood Fortresses - superluigieth1
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Deathmatch - 4731 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Preliatus
    This is the author's first deathmatch-centric map. Oh boy. While I couldn't sleep as it's too humid and heated in my room, I decided to load this up into Zandronum and play with some bots. Some lovely, and unlively, bots. After scouting out the blandly detailed map in single player, I gave it a spin with deathmatch with four bots--four desperate bots that wanted to maul me to death with whichever weapons they got their hands on.

    The map itself is a simplistic map. When I say simplistic it's a small, cramped map that could barely support the amount of bots I had. It uses wooden textures and the closest flat that looks like grass. The two fortresses are copies of each other, the same distance apart, and contain the same weapon placements; this map is rather bland.

    A lack of detail, no special hidden goodies, and no exit. Lovely.

    Simply the weapon placements and nothing else. In the middle of the field between the two fortresses lies a pit that serves little purpose, and it's mere decoration.

    I don't recommend this map to those who enjoy lengthy battles against other players; I do however recommend this to people who enjoy cramped spaces or DM maps that have no goodies hidden within the map. I do recommend that superluigieth1 look at several recently done deathmatch maps to get a feel of what makes a decent deathmatch map. While this isn't too terrible of a first map for deathmatch, it's far too cramped and rather bland. It's a straight forward slaughter map with players instead of demons.

  • Anotak's Goofy Speedmaps - anotak
    Doom 2 - ZDoom - Solo Play - 64828 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Cacatou
    Anotak's Goofy Speedmaps. The name doesn't necessarily inspire confidence, and reading that the required engine is ZDoom instills fears of some beginner who will abuse scripts. But I must say I was pleasantly surprised. MAP01 is a bad start because it has some really bad texture clashes, but as the WAD goes on, the gameplay and design both improves. Style becomes more consistent with maps generally sticking to one theme. MAP02 and 03 provide a quick blast with a few surprise archviles and a pretty decent difficulty. The last 5 maps are all pretty gimmicky. MAP04 (rocket launcher mostly), MAP05 (a crusher platforming area), MAP06 (a Dead Simple knock-off with scripting to change the monsters to kill from mancubi to revenants etc.), MAP07 (a nice little cave that ends with a battle with a teleporting cyberdemon) and MAP08 (an interesting Icon of Sin). A decent WAD with its issues but definitely a far cry from what I was expecting, and a mapset that I would say definitely shows encouraging signs for a budding mapper. Try it out if you want some really quick maps with decent difficulty.

  • 50 shades of sam hyde - chesse20
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 19221140 bytes
    Reviewed by: Preliatus
    50 Shades of Sam Hyde is a jokewad that has the level design of early 1994/1995 maps. Swarms of enemies everywhere, and a giant poorly done sprite sprite of someone named Sam Hyde, I presume.

    Everything is in grayscale as well. Figures.

    Not only will this take away five seconds of your time, but it is not worth the effort to attack the overpowered sprite as it tends to fly in any direction and allow you to rush to the exit.

    Pass. Unless you enjoy these types of things.

  • DOOM 2 - Flashback to Hell - Stormwalker a.k.a. Vordakk
    Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - SP/Co-op - 5701819 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: kmxexii
    Flashback to Hell is something between an episode and a megaWAD for Doom II. Stormwalker presents a post-Final Doom continuity where the UAC attempts to use time travel to send Doomguy back to the beginning of Hell on Earth so that he can head off the invasion at its onset, saving billions of lives on the process. Like all kickin' rad TXTs, it has quite a bit of prose to set things up, so give it a read if that's your thing. Anyway, Doomguy accepts his mission and winds up chasing a different route through the infested starport to the origin of the invasion to confront the insidious Icon.

    Flashback attempts to take the beginning of Doom II to the modern age, to mixed results. I love Stormwalker's layouts and fights, but some of the detailing like the battle damage on the walls is less than stellar, and ending every base map with the same teleport room wears thin quickly. I also enjoyed these levels the further they got from being Doom II homages. They're far from being direct copies, which I've seen implied elsewhere, though some of the room references early on are pretty blatant. Anyway, I thought the later levels were way more interesting. Vordakk settles into a formula with large, open-air hubs with various tertiary areas branching off them. It's not non-linear in any real sense, but I had fun.

    The combat is kind of like Doom II on steroids. Expect a mix of traps, hitscanner snipers, and pitched fights. Stormwalker takes it toward a tougher direction as the maps wear on. Stuff like the twin cyberdemons in MAP10 are more easily handled with a powerup if you know about it, but later levels hold no quarter and have pretty tricksy monster placement. The combat can only distract from the homages so much, though, and when I saw the crazier stuff in the Hell levels I wished that the author had spent more time just doing his own thing rather than draw comparisons to Doom II.

    After the fourteen main levels, you get a cool atmospheric end that points toward a potential sequel, plus two Wolf3D maps that mirror the first and last level of Wolf's 3rd episode. Take it as you may. One big aesthetic issue you might have is with the sound replacements, derived from Per Kristian's high def sound pack. Vordakk released a version of Flashback about a month after this one that pruned the offending SFX, so how about that?

  • Flashback to Hell - Original SFX version - Stormwalker a.k.a. Vordakk
    Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - SP/Co-op - 5701819 bytes
    Reviewed by: kmxexii
    This is an alternate version of Stormwalker's Flashback to Hell that removes the hi-res sound effects. If the SFX were so big a turnoff that you couldn't stand it, you can load this up instead. It's otherwise identical.

  • The UAC's Return - Thomas Trovelak
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 6076452 bytes - (img)
    Reviewed by: Obsidian
    There's not much I can say about this one: it's a decently detailed room where trying to activate anything (whether it be door or switch) gives the message "This doesn't seem to work". IDCLIP reveals that almost none of the doors actually lead anywhere, and for some reason you can find 1024 (count 'em) neat little STARTAN2 boxes placed outside the map, as well as what I think is a large amount of Chaingunners placed in the same place to give you the illusion that this is an actual substantial map. The setup reminds me heavily of one of the shitwads currently decorating the archives, but for some unknown reason it seems to be unfinished: I found no malicious coding, nor obnoxious sounds. Either way it's not really worth your time to download this.

  • Abyssal Speedmapping Sessions: Session 2 - Various
    Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 278415 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Cacatou
    For most people, the summer vacation is a time to unwind and relax. We Doomers, however, opt to mow through vast hordes of hellspawn. When the Earth needs saving who's got time to relax? Abyssal Speedmapping Session 2 is a collection of seven maps made in two hours each (barring a few exceptions). I was expecting something along the line of the usual easy romps, but thankfully the authors have decided to avoid this approach and have made a mapset that not only is a blast to play through but offers enough surprises to keep you on your toes. I generally never play with sound enabled, but for the purpose of a proper review I always enable music, and I'd recommend you to do so too.

    MAP01: If the fast-paced music didn't make it obvious, this map is just a quick romp. No real serious opposition challenges the player, but the light hordes make for a good intro map. The secrets, however, are perfunctory and render a simple map overly easy.

    MAP02: The dark music is a far cry from the upbeat tone of the previous map's music. This map has a sudden rise in difficulty, but the plasma rifle ensures that all opposition is easily dismantled. The final fight is a bit difficult as pillars prove to be a deathtrap.

    MAP03: The slow music seems fitting in a strange way, but by now the traps are becoming exceedingly obvious and the map is a short fun experience. The cyberdemon fails to provide a good challenge due to its location, but it's a good map nonetheless.

    MAP04: The map is like a Doom 2 version of Unto the Cruel. There is a good bit of opposition to get through but unfortunately no secrets in a map that could richly benefit from a couple. A few strange texture alignments serve as a reminder of the low time limit for the construction of all these maps. The main difficulty in the initial phase of this map comes from the two archviles who serve as turrets, but the rest of the encounters are simple including a couple of pain elementals who can easily be negated by firing through the bars. The final battle is another story with a bunch of revenants, coupled with some cacodemons and AVs. One minor complaint would be that the final PE didn't wake up, so I exited the map with 99% kills.

    MAP05: Immediately I'm hit with a sort of déjà vu. This map looks and plays very similarly to the later maps of Khorus' Speedy Shit. Now don't get me wrong, it was a good map, but at points the damaging floor gets tiresome and irritating. The map itself is like a wooden Spirit World in some ways and throws some tough adversaries at the player, but none of this is truly overwhelming apart from the floors. The music felt a bit unfitting, but that's my opinion (as is this whole review duh).

    MAP06: This map is amazing. It is like the lovechild of The Twilight from Plutonia and E4M2. You start the map surrounded, and thinking on your feet is the only way to get through the start. The opposition is full of heavy hitters ensuring that you have no rest. My only complaint would be that there ought to be a secret somewhere.

    MAP07: The music is a haunting medley that, although beautiful, doesn't fit the map too well. For the final map this is too easy, with a lot of power-ups provided and an easy Mastermind encounter. The last room is a bit of a OHSHI- moment, but the second try and a simple run to the exit makes the fight simple. A good map, but a bit too easy with a little bit of inconsistency in whether blood is damaging or not.

    Overall the WAD is definitely one of the better mapsets I've played. The maps are generally not outstanding but still offer a fun romp. MAP06 is one I would recommend definitely be played. The music in the WAD is pretty good, but occasionally a bit unfitting. If you have time definitely go through it.

  • Carson Hallways V.2 - Josh Travis
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 142847 bytes - (img)
    Reviewed by: Obsidian
    First off, I want to point out an error in the textfile: this file is NOT compatible with every source port, as it uses doors with variable speeds, wall textures on the floor and two custom weapons.

    All clear? Good. Secondly, I'm just going to say off the bat that is map is not very good. I know, it doesn't make for a good review to skip straight to the end, but there's a reason for this little lapse. Looking through the comments on the /idgames page I noticed this:

    "A basic Slade wad ruined by incompetance."

    Considering SLADE3 has recently implemented its very own map builder, it's possible that this map was one of the first made with it. Taking that into account, it seems only reasonable to approach this as a technical exercise rather than as a map. The doors (albeit slow) work as they're supposed to, there's not too many glaring errors (with the exception of the one in the screenshot), and the author has managed to insert custom weaponry into the game. I know it doesn't seem like much, but it's the first step towards the author creating proper maps and wads in general. I will say this though: it probably shouldn't have been uploaded to the archives. As Scuba Steve acknowledged in the 2005 Worst Wad article, prototype maps like these are definitely important; the problem is the need some people feel to show these works to other people. I know I haven't shown my first map to the Doom community, and I plan to keep it that way (at least until I decide to upload to Mediafire for shits and giggles).

    Verdict? Not really worth downloading, but it's still a stepping stone to greater things. Keep trying, and maybe keep this sort of early stuff to yourself. :)

  • Gehenna - MatthewDoomer
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 2564413 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: cs99cjb
    I enjoyed this WAD. It takes about 8 minutes to rush through or 20 minutes to savour, but it's rough around the edges and not much of a challenge. I guess I'm more interested in exploration than gameplay and more relaxed about glitches in others' maps than in my own. For a more in-depth review, read on...

    You start opposite a plate glass window in a dark corridor with ceiling fans beating the air loudly on either side. The music is insistent and mournful. You pick up a shotgun. So far, promising. The brightness under the fans is a little off but, as Leonard Cohen says, "there's a crack in everything". Down the corridor, half a dozen imps and a revenant fall easily to your shotgun. You find two medikits you probably don't need and a cache of bullets and shells. After climbing through a breach in the wall, you are outside at the bottom of a rocky escarpment. The atmosphere here is excellent. You go back in through a nearby door, kill a few former humans, pick up the super shotgun, cross a lake of poison and get the blue armour. Yes, 200% armour. It all seems suspiciously easy.

    In fact this map is easy even for a cry-baby like me who gave up on "Swim With The Whales". I rarely had less than 100% health, mostly because there are no monsters with powerful ranged attacks in the second half, apart from one chaingun guy and an arachnotron who is hampered by being unable to fire down a slope at you. Two new monster types are introduced: a mechanized variant of the standard demon, and a goat-man that is similar to an imp but tougher than a demon. Neither has any ranged attack and both fall easily to the super shotgun. Shells are abundant.

    The amount of health given is completely disproportionate: at one point you pick up a berserk pack (health=100%) and soul sphere (health+100%) in quick succession after fighting a few demons. Items such as these should either be in secret locations or given as a reward for winning a tough battle. A second soul sphere is accessible only if you first flip a switch in a secret room, but the secret is rather obvious, so I didn't even realise the connection between the switch and the gate the first time. Immediately before the final boss battle the player is fully loaded up with rockets and a megasphere, so there is no incentive to husband resources. It's a fun ride, but each part feels self-contained.

    Apparently MatthewDoomer has a reputation for making Terrywads. This map does look a bit Terrywadish, although that might be simply because it's ZDoom. Most floors and ceilings have beveled or stepped fringes, and many walls are cut away to reveal a second texture behind the main one. Thick cables snake along the walls and ceiling, and clusters of lights are heavy-framed. The main impression is industrial, but there are some crunching gear-changes into other (gothic iron and Lovecraftian stonework) aesthetics. Personally I would have preferred a unifying theme, but most locations are excellent in isolation. The design occasionally looks cluttered: for example, by the exit door there are two green lights, a blue light and a white light shining downward and a second white light shining upward. Despite all this, the room is still dark! Because there is no single focal point, the overall effect is diminished. Sometimes less is more.

    I played in ZDoom 2.7.1 and I saw floating exclamation marks in certain rooms. Presumably they indicate an error or use of an unsupported feature. The .txt file specifically says "play on zdoom if you want software rendering", but perhaps that combination wasn't tested thoroughly. There are also glitches in the underground tunnel that bypasses the malfunctioning door, and a few misaligned brick textures.

    This map is worth playing for the atmosphere alone, but with a bit more polish and play-testing it could have been so much better.

  • ODESSA 7 ("6 Keys of the Asmod Monks") - Bob Evans
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 205852 bytes - (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: kmxexii
    This is the seventh of Bob's Odessa maps numerically but the last one released before Eternal Doom and Odessa 14. It's a bigass "monastery" that is chock full of Evans puzzles and monsters. It's got a pretty atmospheric intro since you don't fight any enemies at first, but once it's on, it's on. Neat features include a Satanic shadow hovering over the SSG, working it so that you need all six keys, and lots of neat architecture. The monsters opening up secret passages to surprise you were a nice take on monster closets. This is probably the most dense of his non-Eternal maps, though, so expect a lot of not knowing what the Hell to do. The hidden wooden attic area was the thing that got me the worst. Still, the solution to every puzzle is almost always next to the offending road block.

  • ODESSA12 ("Chambers") - Bob Evans
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 108305 bytes - (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: kmxexii
    This is the twelfth level in Bob's Odessa series. It's an alien compound you have to infiltrate to rescue your fellow soldiers, who are being worked over in a torture chamber in the heart of the structure. The torture chamber is definitely the highlight of the level, as once you enter the inner sanctum, you can't leave until you decipher its Evans-puzzles, and the reveal is a nice touch for people that read .TXT flash fiction. The rest is pretty cool, with an entirely optional area that houses a BFG as well as some striking visuals, like that soul sphere room that feels like a trap. The one thing that really rubbed me wrong was that lift staircase early on in the level, which you'll have to climb several times in order to acquire secret blue key.

  • ODESSA 3 ("Fade to Gray") - Bob Evans
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 100288 bytes - (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: kmxexii
    Bob's third Odessa map chases a bit of a surreal element in the narrative. It looks like some kind of fitness center, but you see among its denizens one of your good friends... who's been dead for several years. ODESSA_3 feels a bit more cohesive than some of his more "kitchen sink"-style base maps. The setup helps, plus the fact that it's got maybe four major areas rather than six or more. I like the initial approach and that manic imp / crusher room to the west, with some sneaky switch placement that's bound to trigger a few ragequits. There are also some scares that ultimately don't pan out, like the lost soul room to the east, where the enemies feel hamstrung by blocking lines.

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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Obsidian said:

Secondly, I'm just going to say off the bat that is map is not very good. I know, it doesn't make for a good review to skip straight to the end, but there's a reason for this little lapse. Looking through the comments on the /idgames page I noticed this:

"A basic Slade wad ruined by incompetance."

Considering SLADE3 has recently implemented its very own map builder, it's possible that this map was one of the first made with it. Taking that into account, it seems only reasonable to approach this as a technical exercise rather than as a map.

Text file:

Editor(s) used Slade3, DeepSea, Doom Builder 1, Doom Builder 2

Also the screenshot doesn't work, you see one from Two Wood Fortresses instead. Same deal for Odessa 12's screenshots.

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Yeah, I noticed that in the textfile. I emailed the author about it and he said most of it was made in SLADE though, so my point still stands. :)

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Doom 2 Flashback to Hell is pure mint! I would mainline that stuff into my arteries if possible. The maps get more aggressive as you go. I think I liked map09 the best.

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Ooo, that's a quick turnaround from 448! Gehenna and Flashback to Hell look like the highlights in this one.

I might see about chipping in again over the weekend. There's a couple that nobody is interested in, so I can cover those.

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Gehenna was way too easy but still looked really nice. Good to see a troll mapper 'going legit' and putting his skills to something that more people will appreciate. I think with a few more non-terry maps under his belt he'll be making some excellent stuff.

I got no errors/exclamation marks using GZDoom.

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Bloodshedder said:

The patch didn't run as smoothly as I would have liked, but I was a piece of shit that ran it over a Steam install, so I wasn't expecting sunshine and rainbows. It gave me three incorrect file versions on files I don't know about, maybe due to using a Steam install, patched a file (presumably the IWAD), and then hung up.

Does not appear to be a Steam-only issue. I had similar problems with a CD-ROM version.

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