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The /newstuff Chronicles #460

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  • Deathmatch Revival: 35 Cross Compatible Maps By The Doom Community - DG93, Doomkid, & Joe Pallai
    Doom 2 - Multiplayer - Deathmatch - 3071923 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: joe-ilya
    The title explains itself: a deathmatch megawad that tried to revive the whole deathmatching scene, although it didn't really revive the deathmatching scene. Maybe a bit, as there are some deathmatch servers, but more than there used to be.

    Maps are fun, random and original.

    Some maps fit for duel, some for four-player deathmatch, and some are made for a bigger amount of players, but nevertheless it's great (except for a few). You should open a deathmatch server or just look through the maps in single player as there are very interesting looking maps.

  • Countdown to Extinction - Obsidian
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 1159504 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: scifista42
    Here is a megawad that appeals to me a lot. Countdown to Extinction, alias TickTock.wad, is a collection of 32 one-hour speedmaps (!) by great vanilla mapper Obsidian, whose design style is very sympathetic to me. The maps have various themes; they are all short and sweet, and they're sorted by difficulty. They should be played from pistol starts to get the intended experience, but an easier continuous ride is certainly also possible.

    "One-hour speedmaps, how quality can they be?", you may ask. I tell you, this wad is worth your attention. Obsidian is actually talented for speedmapping, coming up with ideas and quickly giving them an appropriate form and difficulty. He masters various kinds of vanilla tricks. He has authored many clever vanilla-compatible maps, for example Hydra and Trinitotoluene; he also contributes to community projects and regularly organizes Abyssal speedmapping sessions.

    Obsidian's mapping style is distinct in all his maps, including those in Countdown to Extinction. It looks like he's proud of it (and I'd say that rightfully), as he always puts a certain symbol on the floor near the start of each map, as his sign. Obsidian's maps are primarily gameplay oriented and built around a single main idea or theme. Combat situations are varied and provide both fun and challenge. Many maps feature atmospheric elements that induce a feeling of hostility, but music choice helps it too. Some maps are pretty punishing, as Obsidian has tendencies toward sadism and really likes Archviles. Casual players can experience trouble; in addition, the wad (unfortunately) has no difficulty settings, because of the one hour creation limit I suppose. Hardcore players shouldn't have big problems, though. I was personally satisfied by the challenge. It's not a slaughter style, and each map was manageable for me—eventually.

    The maps often take place in techbases or libraries infested by hell. I get the impression that Obsidian puts care into visuals exactly as much as needed, not more and not less, in order to create a map that's "not ugly" at the very least. He also manages to spread detail evenly. As opposed to many speedmaps, here I've never noticed bland parts that unnaturally stick out from the rest. Sure, the overall amount of detail cannot be any elaborate, but it's not at all dull, either. Most visual elements are somehow related to a gameplay purpose, or atmospheric. That's another reason why I admire Obsidian - he developed a design style that's relatively simple, looks okay and can be built fast.

    But I primarily admire Obsidian's efficiency. I realize that each of his maps was created in a short time, and yet it feels complete and is pleasant to play—what more would I need? I personally can't manage speedmapping at all, so I can just envy, while enjoying playing Obsidian's maps and wishing him good luck at making more of them so I can play them. You should check out this pretty darn awesome mapset, whatever playstyle you prefer - you'll be satisfied if you're a fan of short-and-sweet, moderately punishing difficulty, and also for the vanilla tricks. I can guarantee that you'll find yourself amazed by the fact that these maps were created in a single hour each. Go for it. Your countdown to extinction has already begun.

    P.S. There is a custom final boss, too.

  • The Infernal Castle - Rauno Marks
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 96648 bytes - (img)
    Reviewed by: Zulk-RS
    The Infernal Castle feels like a castle in hell. It's a single map wad that replaces the first Doom II map. It was fun and had textures that fit in well with the environment. But throughout my play-through I felt a lack of healing items. I was ambushed by monsters countless times on this wad. It doesn't really have anything too fancy though, like scripts, curved walls etc. One thing that does get annoying though is constantly getting ambushed. You'll spend at least a quarter of your play time looking for health and ammo. Be prepared to die repeatedly if you're just mastering Doom's controls. Rushing into rooms without a plan will most likely get you killed. But It's still pretty fun to play it. It's a short and sweet wad.

  • Bloodfall Fortress - riderr3
    Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 286641 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: vtm
    BloodFall Fortress is a long map that replaces map25, Bloodfalls. The author did take his time to design the level, since it is nice looking. The map is intended to be done with a pistol start.

    The biggest downside of this map is the gameplay. The map is big and players will get lost easily since there is no indication where to go. From the start you will be attacked by revenants and imps; trying to find a place to hide at the start is near impossible, as chaingunners, mancubuses, and arachnotrons are placed to snipe the player. Weapons, health and ammunition are scarce; I ran out of ammo pretty quickly and found myself dying very often.

    If I were you, I would be looking for another map.

  • The Catacombs - Jimmy Greaney
    Heretic - Vanilla - Solo Play - 23149 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Jjp
    Source port and settings used for review: ZDoom 2.7.1 on skill 4.

    The Catacombs is a single map for Heretic (not to be confused with E2M5 of the Heretic IWAD) that was apparently made in the beginning of 1996 and was recently uploaded to the archives this year. It is meant for both single player and deathmatch, with coop having player starts, but I don't see any real difference in thing placement between single player and multiplayer. The map would be unsuitable for deathmatch anyway due to its lack of interconnectivity and thing placement that would be considered unbalanced in deathmatch.

    The architecture is bland, except for the usage of the waterfall texture and flat during the first part of the map, which is absolutely awful. Otherwise, the rooms lack detail. There are also a lot of hanging bodies, particularly in hallways. A lot of areas have full brightness, but the map also has a very dark room with an ice friction floor, which is annoying because there's an iron lich there.

    The gameplay is also uneventful for the most part. Health and items are plentiful, although the ammo balance is a bit tight if you're careless like me or if you can't find one of the dragon claws, which are easy to miss due to their stupid locations. Also D'Sparil is present on skill 4, and he appears in a section of the map that you can't escape from if you used up all the chaos devices on the map. The items you will have at that point will trivialize that fight anyway. Having to cross over an invisible walkover trigger that is not particularly obvious in order to temporarily lower a column with the green key on it is another bad design choice.

    Overall, this is a bad map. There are better Heretic wads in the archives, so don't play this unless you're incredibly bored.

    Heretic - Vanilla - Solo Play - 23850 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: vtm
    Final1 is one map for Heretic, and it replaces E1M1.

    A small map, the first made by Eric, and has several misaligned textures, which is common for beginners. Level design is poor. Combat is easy; the most difficult fight is at the end of the level, but didn't find it boring. Ammo and health is abundant, but there are too many artifacts in my opinion, especially tomes of power. The green key can only be grabbed using wings of wrath, and for some reason there is a blue key but not a blue door. You aren't missing anything special here, feel free to pass on it.

  • Hard Doom Guns - scifista42
    Doom/Doom 2 - Vanilla - N/A - 17459 bytes - (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: joe-ilya
    A mod that keeps everything useful.

    The pistol is not just useful for grabbing a new weapon now, it has more accuracy and uses five more bullets at once.

    The fist is now swinging like crazy and the chainsaw can get the berserk effect too!

    This mod doesn't change the BFG and the SSG because these are perfect weapons.

    Monsters are tweaked as well, making the zombieman a worthy opponent, and the demons too.

    Some of them are quite overpowered; Mancubuses and the PE's will kick your ass, guaranteed.

  • Shadows of Chronos - Samuel Villarreal
    Hexen - Vanilla - Solo Play - 1297822 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Zalewa
    Here we have a treat for all the Hexen fans out there. I liked the original game myself, but mainly for its atmosphere. I always found combat in original Hexen to be very tedious, and the switch hunting puzzles and level design too confusing for my taste. This WAD here, however, doesn't suffer from any of these.

    Text file states that no source port is needed but I still chose to play this in Zandronum. Whole WAD took me about two hours to beat.

    This map set starts pretty much like the original game: in a single, castle-like level detached from the rest of the hub, and ends with a small boss-fight map. In between we have the usual Hexen hub where puzzles solved in one level open new paths in a different one. Levels are connected quite well, as I was rarely stumped as to where I should go next. The important thing here is to explore all levels thoroughly and remember where the key objects are, like the headless statue or gem wall - pretty standard stuff, as this WAD doesn't introduce any distinguishably new types of puzzles. Levels are mostly themed around swamps, caves, and garden areas with some medieval and Roman ruins thrown in. Everything is nicely detailed with varying textures, sectors and lighting, and by different kinds of sprite clutter scattered in appropriate places.

    As for the combat, it's not very difficult, but more importantly it's not tedious and all levels are action packed. I was playing on the 4th difficulty level, and my only deaths were caused by falling into chasms. Annoying centaurs aren't over-abundant here, and, as I was playing as a Cleric, the 4th weapon (Wraithverge) deals with them very quickly.

    The final level is a bit bugged though. Make sure to not kill the bosses simultaneously with the same blow or the script won't run properly and the level will get stuck.

    To summarize, this is a wonderful Hexen hub that can be enjoyed even by those who usually find Hexen too boring or too slow paced for their taste.

  • Hell Gauntlet - John Cartwright
    Plutonia - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 129015 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: joe-ilya
    A fast-paced slaughter map for Plutonia for MAP03 with a thousand monsters.

    Starts off surrounded with monsters and an "armory" patch that you'll probably miss unless you look for other patches, unlike Doomers who go to the patch they first see.

    There are few times where you'll have to run and circle strafe around projectiles for a long time, as there are a lot of hordes of 150 monsters, and most of them have revenants.

    The map isn't tedious, it's very exciting, and you gotta take risks sometimes. Good luck to you if you want to play this map on UV.

  • Loathsome Cleft - James "Phobus" Cresswell
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 94487 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Ryathaen
    If you ever decide you want to send a little something for my birthday, I'll say this: given the choice between a greeting card and some baked goods, unsurprisingly I'd choose the baked goods every day of the week. Those are what really take time and care. And it's personal; you do it with your own two hands. Who would pass that up for the cleverest greeting card in the world?

    So, Loathsome Cleft. One prolific WAD creator builds a map to celebrate another prolific WAD creator's birthday. It sounds like something that could go one of two ways. It could be a greeting card, or it could be a nice banana bread. Loathsome Cleft is a big ol' banana bread.

    You'll believe me after you've had a taste. It's a neat theme for starters, with almost the whole map taking place in an open, shadowy crag. You worm and squirm your way along paths that skirt the outside of the valley, battling heavy opposition all along the way.

    In the span of a ten minute map, you'll see most—if not all—of the enemies Doom has to offer. Mostly, though, you'll see cacodemons. They're basically the banana in this equation, and Phobus stirs a generous serving into the open design so that you're always being hunted no matter where you go.

    Just because this is a birthday party doesn't mean it's going to be all fun and games. You've got to work for it. Phobus gives you just enough ammo to do it with, and health is even tighter. I actually finished the map with nothing left but my fists, and resorting to infighting in order to bring down that cyberdemon was better icing on the bread than any huge fight could have been.

    What I'm saying is... I'd be happy to help you eat the rest of your birthday haul, Obsidian, if the rest is as tasty as what Phobus sent you.

  • Triplex - Memfis
    Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 7358087 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: scifista42
    Triplex is an abandoned project by Memfis. Requires PrBoom-plus -complevel 9. The wad contains three maps; they play on MAP08, MAP17 and MAP31 slots. Each of them has a different theme, new custom textures and things, and a new midi. Strangely, there are also multiple custom music tracks and changed map names for other map slots than these three. Anyway, the maps in this mapset have a couple things in common: first, obviously, is Memfis's typical mapping style, which he cannot deny. And it's good, because Memfis makes great maps in terms of visuals, layout structure, atmosphere reminiscent of classic wads, and fun and challenging gameplay. Second thing is a custom DEHACKED (BEX) patch, bringing multiple new monsters into the game - and these monsters are actually meaningfully used, and don't spoil the dynamics of Doom's gameplay at all. And finally - while these maps are no slaughtermaps at all and they play like "classic", they all have a challenging and punishing difficulty. It's above my skills to play this wad fluently without dying. And still, I enjoy and appreciate the challenge - it seems manageable for a skilled player, so that I can practice and they try again and my chances get better. (Unfortunately, this wad doesn't have difficulty settings.)

    MAP08: Inner Demons. It's sort of a "space techbase", a moderately long map with fast-paced gameplay. You'll very soon find out that overall difficulty is set up pretty high. Yes, you start with a fast pistol and get the shotgun and chaingun almost immediately, but you'll get into trouble right after the first door - a fast slime-spitting demon is waiting there for you. Classic monsters are often placed in a very threatening way, but as I said earlier, it never becomes a mere slaughter. Combat takes place in moderately cramped areas, but can be a lot of fun nevertheless. The map is semi-linear; you'll revisit areas, and there is one entirely optional section called "Armory", but your correct way to reach an exit is determined. Many blue and silver-colored custom textures are used. I liked it, although a certain teleporter trap remains unbeatable to me.

    MAP17: The Court. A Plutonia-themed map. The gameplay reminds me of Plutonia too; it's rough and relies mainly on higher-tier monsters. This map contains the least amount of custom monsters of all maps in this wad. However, it contains the biggest amount of archviles and revenants. Not extremely much, though, don't worry. Both design and challenge are well done. There's more space to maneuver, but it's still limited (and the challenge benefits from that). I wasn't pleased at all whenever distance snipers were involved and I couldn't manage to find cover quickly. I couldn't handle the difficulty without cheating - but anyway, I see the map's qualities. Might be fun for Plutonia-gameplay enthusiasts.

    MAP31: Brainwash. An extensive techbase outpost in a rocky natural area. Actually, it's just slightly bigger than the previous two maps. Areas feel more open, but you won't really have much more space to move around. This map uses various monsters from low to high tier, and multiple custom monsters not seen in the wad until now (dark imps, aggressive grey cacodemons, exploding spheres and more). The initial battle is the most hectic part, then you might get away with a campy strategy relatively well (not entirely). I'd say this is the easiest map, while I still consider it hard. Everything in the map looks pretty good (higher detail level, variation) and the layout was enjoyable to explore - progression was nonlinear this time, at least I felt distinctly more freedom when deciding where to go. I liked this map quite a lot.

    Give this wad a try, if you feel like being fairly challenged in a non-slaughter way, and if you can handle it. Or if you want to practice your skill in some nice-looking, quality designed levels. Triplex can serve very well for that. If you dislike challenge, though, better find yourself another entertainment, because there are not even difficulty settings. I personally really like this wad for what it offers - Memfis's design always works on me.

  • Gredna - Memfis
    Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 3521580 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: scifista42
    Gredna.wad contains two maps by Memfis. Both are short and compact, and—as always with Memfis's stuff—they're nice to look at and very fun to play. This time, they're not punishing in difficulty (although Memfis knows how to prepare challenge), they simply provide a pleasant playthrough for a casual player. Gameplay feels classic in the best possible way; you'll mostly encounter low-tier monsters in appropriate amounts (like in early maps of a megawad). Custom textures are well-used to keep the environment interesting, and pretty cool custom music is included as well. Recommended!

  • Silent Halls - Memfis
    Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 3220441 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: scifista42
    Another good-looking, great-playing map by Memfis, with a well done classic feeling to it. Only one map, short to medium sized, nonlinear. Takes place in both indoor and outdoor areas, and both look beautiful (in their simplicity). Gameplay would be appealing for casual players. Low-tier enemies predominate, difficulty is easy while not entirely trivial at all - a couple times you'll worry about your life. Still, I don't think that hardcore players would find this map challenging. Exploring this map was satisfying due to a clever yet simple structure; secrets are nicely done too. The map uses custom textures and even objects along with the stock ones - I get an impression that Memfis very well knows how to do this right. And of course, the map is accompanied with a nice and fitting music track. I can definitely recommend playing it, as it will give you more than just a quick fun.

  • Toilet Break - Memfis
    Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 2351894 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: scifista42
    Toilet Break is another single map by Memfis, recommended to be played in PrBoom-plus -complevel 9. Description of the wad says: "A wad to play while sitting on the toilet." I suspect that the title is a reference to Coffee Break Episode 1, which is a high-quality mapset by Matt Tropiano. Toilet Break might have been inspired by it. But it's mainly a typical Memfis map - compact, short, with a "classic" vibe to it, good looking and very fun to play.

    Start area looks like a toilet (first screenshot), but the rest of the level is serious. The map depicts a small tech/military base located in a natural area on a sea coast (found later in the map). It feels like a "Doom-realistic" place in a great way. Detail level is a perfect average between low/simple and high/elaborate, and it's pleasant to look at (there are custom textures and decorative objects). Good compact structure and enjoyable semi-linear progression - you are given a lot of freedom in movement, while you're still expected to visit certain places by certain paths. You will also revisit areas, and navigate an unconventional way over the tops of rocky / brick structures at one point.

    This time, challenge amount is moderate - neither too easy, nor too hard - and well suited for casual players with a little of experience. Certain encounters might be challenging, but usually can be managed with a camping strategy. Enemies range from low to high tier, but there's no stronger foe than a mancubus. You'll get weapons early, and ammo is well balanced so that you should always have enough. I liked this small map a lot and recommend it to everyone, whether he's sitting on a toilet or not (I wasn't) - it's simply an example of good mapping.

  • Memories - Memfis
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 905500 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: scifista42
    Memfis warns you in the textfile: "Pretty simple map today, just blast some monsters and that's it." The level indeed seems simple for a Memfis map, like if it was rushed, in terms of both level design and monster placement. Despite all of this, the map has a lot of good in it. Memfis either can't deny his talent for making enjoyable maps, or he deliberately let the map looking more sloppy than it is. Or it is me, who has a fondness for the characteristics of Memfis's mapping, which are present here.

    The map is hard. Not really hard, but it's very easy to die here. Monster count only reaches 100, and their placement doesn't resemble slaughterish style at all, it's rather chaotic instead - but doesn't feel that chaotic. Enemy types are just often mixed together and form little swarms. You are immediately attacked by various basic enemies right at the start. Soon after, you enter a large yard full of monsters of different types. Your best bet here is to play hide and seek, otherwise hitscanners / arachnotrons / cacodemons have a good chance to hit you. You'll have to overcome a couple ambushes where multiple monsters appear from multiple sides - their counts aren't that big, but they are placed effectively. Layout feels plain, but works well. You have to grab a couple keys in any order you want, but one of them is more advantageous, then open a couple doors, and that's it. Just don't get yourself killed by all the (un)predictable monsters. The map nicely uses non-orthogonal structures in both natural and techbase areas. Give it a go, but don't expect much eye-candy this time; expect rough gameplay in a crude level which is somehow appealing anyway.

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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Scifista42 said:

It looks like he's proud of it (and I'd say that rightfully), as he always puts a certain symbol on the floor near the start of each map, as his sign.

Haha, you found my signature! It's not as cute as Marcaek's little cake symbol, but I still like it.

And "really likes Arch-Viles" is a massive understatement. :D

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an "armory" patch that you'll probably miss unless you look for other patches, unlike Doomers who go to the patch they first see.

I, uh... am not sure what the reviewer meant by "patch" there.

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