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The /newstuff Chronicles #476

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  • Thy Flesh - Turned into a draft-excluder - Matt "cannonball" Powell
    Ultimate Doom - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 1800609 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Ryathaen
    Matt "cannonball" Powell nabbed a Cacoward last year for draft-excluder, and it was without a doubt well-deserved. The WAD's got it all: unique, asymmetrical layouts; beautiful E4-inspired architecture; hard-but-fair battles. It mixes classic corridor-shooting with high-stakes set-piece moments, and there's such intense creativity and love oozing from every aspect of it. Frankly, I was ready to proclaim draft-excluder the finest OG Doom episode I'd ever played... up until the last three maps.

    It begins in the best possible way. draft-excluder's opener, "The Lost Bastion," throws you directly into the fray -- face to face with a baron of hell. Survival requires that you keep cool and weave your way around the small ring-like arena that represents about 75% of the map's playable area, picking off the hitscanners before you settle in for the long haul of infighting and berserk-packing the survivors.

    The majority of the maps in draft-excluder follow a similar pattern -- they're short and sweet, tightly designed around a single concept, and they refuse to give you a moment to catch your breath. M2 has a cyberdemon sentinel right in the midst of everything, just as likely to help clear out the opposition blocking your path as he is likely to one-shot you out of nowhere. And M9... well, M9 is soul-crushingly difficult but also brief enough that even by your tenth attempt, you're still grinning like an idiot.

    The other big emphasis in draft-excluder is infighting. Several maps are obviously geared toward infighting, but it's encouraged in almost every encounter. Thinning the herd without expending ammo will help boatloads, given draft-excluder's high difficulty and fairly sparse ammo and health placement.

    The latter maps, I'll admit, suffer from an over-reliance on unkillable cyberdemons, which results in a lot of cheap-feeling deaths. Otherwise it's just a handful of underwhelming fights -- especially the two toothless spiderdemons you face at the conclusion of the last map. It's a weird note to go out on, given the epic scale cannonball had slowly built up until that point.

    The whole package is a marvel and a delight to play, despite any minor flaws. I honestly don't really like cyberdemons, but if you do, you'll love draft-excluder even more than I did. Definitely among the best Doom 1 episodes I've played.

  • MAYhem 2048 AKA MAYhem2014 - A buncha schmucks
    Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 7311629 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Jjp
    Played with ZDoom 2.7.1. All maps were played from a pistol start.

    MAYhem2048, also known as MAYhem2014, is a 35-map megawad for Doom II in which all maps were made during the month of May 2014. It is the third wad in the MAYhem series, and it requires a Boom-compatible port that supports sky transfers. The gimmick this time is that each map's playable area is 2048x2048 or less. The wad uses resources from Eternal Doom, including its textures, the darker imp sprite, and the sound replacements.

    Many authors contributed maps to this wad. As a result, the maps have varying themes and gameplay. A few of the maps had some puzzles amongst the action. There are also a few slaughtermaps as well. For the most part, the maps seem to be sorted by how difficult they are. Some of the later maps, including map25, map28 and map29, were too difficult for me on UV, but since difficulty settings are implemented well, I was still able to complete those maps on HNTR. Due to the limited size of the maps, the player won't find any marathons that take half an hour to complete.

    The quality of the maps does vary, and there are a few maps that I really did not like. These maps include map03, map10, map18, map22, map33, and map35.

    - map03 has incredibly strict ammo balance that will frustrate many first-time players. The map also has a few patches of mud that slow the player down, a design decision that not many people will like.
    - map10 looks very messy, as if hastily put together, and has some bad design choices such as placing hitscanners on the bottom of steep stairs, putting mancubuses on the bottom of lifts, and switches that don't seem to do anything until the very end.
    - map18 has obnoxious enemy placement, including a vicious point-blank imp trap and an archvile whose attack may be impossible to avoid at one point. If that does not make people skip the map, the damaging floors certainly will. I hated playing this even on HNTR.
    - map22 would be an okay map, but some of the archvile placement is aggravating. It also looked bland, and I am not fond of the hitscanner-heavy pistol start.
    - map33 is an incredibly pointless map with only five monsters.
    - map35 is a poor attempt at making a horror map.

    Meanwhile, map04, map09, and map30 had some unusual ideas and clever effects, and I enjoyed them despite their flaws.

    - map04 begins with some nice puzzles, and I wish more maps had keys that were associated with secret areas. The revenant trap in the beginning and the instantly appearing hell knights may leave a bad impression on the player, though.
    - map09 is a quirky map that includes a shooting gallery, complete with an ammo dispenser.
    - map30 includes an interesting Icon of Sin puzzle, although the solution is not obvious. It's a welcome change from the usual timing exercise, at least. I also like the introductory area of the map and how it gets reused.

    Of course, there were some maps that are simply fantastic. Personally, I thought that the best maps were map06, map08, map19, map21, map23, map28, and map32. All of those maps had stellar architecture, layouts, and gameplay, including some memorable and well-designed scenarios. The rest of the maps that I have not mentioned up to this point are all enjoyable as well. They may have some flaws, or they may not stand out as much, but I still had fun playing them.

    Overall, there are a lot of good maps, a few gems, and some duds. This wad is worth downloading, but some of the maps should be skipped over. Also, if you aren't a very skilled player, it's best that you pick a lower skill level when playing some of the more challenging maps.

    ...and at this rate, expect MAYhem1500 (aka MAYhem2015) to be reviewed in 2016.

  • 3 Heures d'agonie 2 - 3ha2 Team
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 3075603 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Jjp
    Reviewed with ZDoom 2.7.1 on UV. All maps were played from a pistol start.

    3 Heures d'agonie 2 is a megawad for Doom II created by members of the French Doom community. It consists of speedmaps that were supposed to be made in three hours, although reading 3ha2info.txt reveals that several maps needed some extra time. I don't mind, though, since I think the time limit is meant to inspire mappers, not serve as a strict rule. It is vanilla-compatible, but I recommend using a limit-removing port if you do not like HOMs and the possibility of occasional VPOs.

    This is obviously the sequel to the first 3 Heures d'agonie, so if you liked that wad, then you'll probably find a lot to like here. As someone who never played the first one, I really liked this wad. Like many other community megawads, the typical techbase to hell progression is mostly present, although the usage of custom textures in some maps does add some variety. There are a few slaughtermaps within this megawad, so some people might want to skip those. The majority of the maps do have linear progression, but the layouts are good and do not feature pointless backtracking. Most of the maps are composed of small to medium-sized areas and rooms, and many of them can be beaten in around 10 minutes. One exception to that is map28, which contains 2400 monsters and large-scaled architecture to match the monster count.

    Some maps did have noticeable flaws. In particular, map10 and map11 were symmetrical maps that were tedious to play, map15 had monotonous texturing, and map17's last room was tedious to clear out. However, there are many more enjoyable maps than mediocre ones. The slaughtermaps, which include map19, map26, map28, and map31, all looked great and had some tricky scenarios. I also like map12 for being a nice tiny city map and map21 for being an enjoyable small Plutonia-inspired map. map32 is also notable for using the REJECT lump in an interesting way. Those are just some of the maps that stood out to me, but most of the other maps are still worth playing. The only map I really disliked was map30 because it's another boss brain map that doesn't do anything new and is frustrating to play.

    Aside from the first few maps, beating each map on UV can be a difficult task. The authors really like using archviles in the later maps, and they can make life miserable if they are not dispatched quickly. Some maps, such as map13, map25, and map27, had difficult pistol starts due to monsters that attack the player immediately. Figuring out how to survive the opening moments of those maps was fun. The difficulty settings could have been implemented better, though. In some maps, HMP and UV have the same thing placement. Also, map28 has no differences between skill levels at all. On the bright side, there are additional monsters and items in multiplayer, so this might be a good megawad to play in survival coop.

    This is a very good megawad, especially for those who want a moderate challenge, and you can always skip any maps that you do not like. It might not be innovative, but it's definitely worth a download.

  • Meatballs 2: Night Mission - riderr3
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 339326 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
    So, this is three medium/large maps made by riderr3 as a sequel to Meatballs. Stylistically this mapset reminds me of Plutonia (huge amounts of enemies, a "jungle" environment with lots of green/brown buildings), but there's the twist of the puzzle-ish layout segments that adds more variety to the game with pretty wide open outdoor sections and some interconnected mazes. Also, the monster placement is pretty competent, but there are some sections in the maps that unluckily lack ammo (or is just that I'm wasting it). The new graphics are cool, but the only thing that made me cringe is the lift puzzle in MAP02 in the red skull door room (screenshot 4 for reference). When you find said switch that activates the door after doing a simple lift puzzle, you can't get away and you're forced to use the noclip cheat if you don't have said object! But overall it is a pretty good map and is pretty fun to play. Download it!

  • Sound Caulking PSX - Jaxxoon R
    Doom/Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 2051536 bytes
    Reviewed by: joe-ilya
    New pain sounds for all the monsters. Instead of hearing that repetitive groan, you'll now hear a specific groan for each monster. The classic groan will only be heard from the demon, but not the spectre. The groans all sound pretty fitting and good. Some monsters even have new death sounds.

    But that's not all the custom content there is; there's also a new sound for the chaingun fire. All the other sounds in the game have been smoothed.

    Otherwise, everything sounds better and more fitting to the game, but I don't think it's a fun wad; it's just interesting to hear the replaced sounds, but then, after five minutes or so finding the sounds, you get bored and there's nothing else you can do with this wad except to play level packs you like with it.

  • Oblivion - Stormwalker a.k.a. Vordakk
    Ultimate Doom - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 1914410 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Ryathaen
    Stormwalker is back! Last year he gave us the wonderful Flashack to Hell, and now here comes Oblivion, an E1-ish episode that shows some of the same mapping sensibilities as Flashback, but polished to perfection.

    The defining feature of Oblivion's maps is the way they're laid out -- and the way you progress through them. All but two or three of the maps employ a heavily centralized layout, with a large (frequently open-air) hub-like area from which you strike out to complete your objectives and return numerous times. As you progress through the map, this hub opens up and allows access to more and more areas.

    Progression is linear, usually from one key to the next, but there's a strong sense of freedom and discovery nonetheless. It's quite common for you to have two or more routes to reach your next objective. There are plenty of points where you'll be working your way down a path, find the key you're looking for before you reach the end of said path, and then have the choice of continuing to see where it goes... or turning back and using the key to get deeper into the level. Tons of areas are totally optional, with some simply opening up quicker routes between areas you've already been to. And there are lots of dead-ends that exist just as an optional place where you can kill more dudes and pick up more stuff.

    It's touches like this that come together to make Oblivion feel less like the creator is in control, and more like you are. Tracking down all of the WAD's little nook and alcoves, or finding alternate paths, is incredibly rewarding. Stormwalker is even kind enough to provide plenty of easy-to-find secrets for the idiots like me who normally can't find any.

    Basically, the joy of Oblivion is in the unexpected, from the map layouts right down to the monster placement. Symmetrical and asymmetrical design are woven together seamlessly, but even in areas that are symmetrical, monsters are hardly ever placed symmetrically. And you never know when to expect a trap; they hardly ever spring right when you pick up a key. Instead, there's lots of tiny traps during normal exploration: an imp here, a couple spectres there. You just never know when or what the map is going to throw at you next. It may not be very challenging, but it's always surprising.

  • 0effort - Memfis
    Doom 2 - PrBoom+ - Solo Play - 165174 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: joe-ilya
    A short non-linear map with quick and moderate gameplay with no secrets. It's rather professional for such a title and it has no secrets or difficulties implemented. Map's fun and has some neat traps in it and the usage of barrels is cool too you're going to use the SSG for combat and the chaingun or shotgun for picking up snipers. There are mid-tier and low-tier monsters only. It's a map you'll enjoy, even for such a short period of time, since it's so short.

    The map is set in a muddy and sometimes randomized atmosphere; sometimes it's in a technological base, sometimes it's set in a satanic barrack, and sometimes even a mix of both themes. This wad contains new textures and flats and a new sky along with a spooky MIDI.

    My only complaint is the lack of the rocket launcher and the secrets. Otherwise, go ahead and play this one.

  • Double Dribble - Memfis
    Doom 2 - PrBoom+ - Solo Play - 102633 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: joe-ilya
    Yet another map by Memfis. This one is hard and overall is a mix of themes; first it's ruins, then it's a dungeon, and then a canyon, but it's not bad to mix themes. The map has an ancient type of MIDI and it cannot be played in vanilla because of the size.

    Map's fun, challenging, short and has clever jump tricks and monster encounters and uses a big chunk of the weaponry. You'll find yourself using all your weapons except for the pistol. Go play this if you like big variety in small maps and will accept defeat and repeat the level, unlike me.

  • Toy Maker - 08scatman
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 2343897 bytes - (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: The Civ
    This wad is simply a failed attempt at creating a horror map.

    Toy Maker is a single map wad that is apparently based on a creepypasta. I myself haven't read many creepypastas, and I've never heard of this one before. They just aren't my thing, but I thought I'd give this wad the benefit of the doubt and try it anyways.

    The single map itself is nothing more than a few long hallways and large rooms, all pitch black. There is nothing unique about any one of the rooms, and nothing memorable in this wad whatsoever. This wad also steps over a big horror "no-no" for me, as it ends with a screamer, then promptly causes the game to close.

    In my opinion, screamers are really a last resort to scare a player, and I don't consider them real horror elements, but what's even worse, is that on some displays, the screamer won't even line up with the screen, only showing half of a poorly made demon head. Rooms were very square, progress was entirely linear, and no combat was present whatsoever, making this more of an "exploration" map, but without the excitement of true exploration. I had also noticed that the creator had somehow either removed or broken the HUD, forcing you to go HUDless the whole time.

    I will give the creator the credit of adding some pretty good ambient music, which did make me a little tense at the beginning.

    Linear design, boring gameplay, and a cheap screamer all lower this to an abysmal level, but I'll give it extra credit simply for the ambient track that's present, and the excellent use of Doom's software rendering to create a dark and ominous atmosphere.

  • Favillesco Alpha Episode 2: Desecration on Thebe - Nicolas Monti
    Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 2253142 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Ryathaen
    Favillesco Alpha Episode: Apostasy on Amalthea was my personal WAD-of-the-Year in 2014. With Favillesco Alpha Episode 2: Desecration on Thebe, I had to know if lightning could strike twice.

    I felt at home from the word go, from the awesome Doom alpha textures, to Nicolas Monti's meandering and interconnected layouts, to the almost complete lack of right angles. The midi choices are super weird and at the same time fit perfectly. And as far as gameplay goes, Monti is still the crown prince of roamers -- what modern game devs would probably pretentiously call "emergent gameplay." The complexity of the maps and the sheer number of monsters placed throughout means that there's always some jerk you missed along the way who's now bumbling around the level trying to catch up with you... and who'll lob a fireball at the back of your head when you least expect it.

    Thebe is essentially the grown-up version of Amalthea, with all the good stuff cranked up a notch -- and a lot of the bad stuff as well. Shotgun snipers are absolutely everywhere, and you'll lose chips of health to unseen hitscan attackers way too often. Then there's the traps, usually involving demons or barons in close quarters, where survival comes down to prior knowledge or sheer, blind luck.

    When it's not throwing lame traps at you, though, the combat in Thebe is consistent and challenging. I appreciate that it steers away from the big encounter and set-piece design that's so common in modern WADs, and instead has every map play like an endurance run. No one battle alone is likely to mean your death. Instead, you've got to survive the long haul, with minor cuts and scrapes adding up over time, and healing items hard to come by.

    Overall, Thebe is a solid Doom episode by an extremely talented author. There are some really blatant mistakes that pull it down, and it doesn't have quite the freshness of the original, but it's still fantastic. You'll be on your toes from M1 to M8.

  • Plate - 2 micro levels - Gunsmith
    Doom 2 - GZDoom - Solo Play - 778834 bytes - (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
    Two very short maps for ZDoom (and derivatives) made by Gunsmith, author of another map that hit the /newstuff reviews lands long ago, Aegis Computer Station. Like that map, again it uses the Simplicity formula of layout and gameplay, only this time on a much more shrunken size, both symmetrical and very, VERY short (you can finish all the maps in five minutes on casual play).

    Includes new DECORATE monsters like the gray skeleton imp and the KDiZD Hell Knight. Overall the maps aren't bad but they are too short to be fully enjoyable, but I'm still telling you to take a chance at it, because it is a snack map (I don't known if it is a good idea to create this term... but eh, I did it). But it is nice. Download it!

  • Hospital of Horrors - DukeNukem4ever
    Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 98795 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Memfis
    This wad indeed portrays a hospital but the "horror" part is highly debatable. The only thing that might creep you out about it is the fact that the whole level is very dark even with gamma correction 4, but I found that simply annoying rather than scary. The combat is underwhelming: the monsters only attack you from the front and you can always move back to a safe distance easily. All the action happens in completely flat, almost Wolf3D-style rooms: it's just not exciting. I guess the exploration is somewhat entertaining here as you get to see a bathroom, a dissection laboratory and stuff like that, plus the music is nicely atmospheric. But overall "Hospital of Horrors" is a weak map that fails to capitalize on the game's strengths. Probably the only way to make it fun is to play on the Nightmare skill or to use some good gameplay modifier.

  • Hacx Scene - Vermont, or "LittleInferno" on Doomworld.
    HACX - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 30203 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
    Oh boy, this sure is a real rarity.

    A map for the fairly obscure HACX, a pseudo Doom clone made by Banjo Software back in 1997 based on an original megawad for Doom 2. Today's level is made by Vermont, aka LittleInferno here on Doomworld, after... yeah, five years and nobody has made anything for this (expect a revamping of the main game that I saw on the ZDoom forums some year ago), so what is this thing that has come out?

    A piece of shit, if I had to go brutal on it.

    This is a large square room filled with some "attractions" as detailing, like some little canyon rivers with waterfalls, and a fake Capitol Hill in the south-west corner room because why not, some broken places, another little rectangular room filled with some monsters and a tower.

    No exit, two extra player 1 spawns, and scattered items finish this 2015 origwad for HACX. I get that this map is a just mere test for seeing if the game works, but why upload it on the archives if not only for the rarity of the efforts?

    But for the rarity of the product, I would prefer to see a short working map instead of this. Skip to another map!

  • 1 star deathmatch - Ilya "Joe" Lazarev
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Deathmatch - 740761 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Jjp
    Reviewed using Zandronum 2.0 with other players.

    This wad consists of 35 deathmatch maps created by joe-ilya. Having descriptions of every map would be really repetitive since many of the maps have at least some of the following characteristics:

    - It is mostly or completely flat.
    - It consists of one room.
    - The texturing is either repetitive or haphazard.
    - There is excessive usage of copy and paste.
    - Its layout is symmetrical.
    - There is too much health lying around.

    The gameplay of these maps is devoid of any strategy or depth due to their extremely basic layouts. This wad should not be played with more than 3-4 players since most of the maps are too small to support any more without the gameplay turning into a mess. There is nothing pretty to look at while fragging other people, too. Thankfully, I did not find any major bugs.

    Even among this mess, there are a few maps that stand out. map01 is a bit larger and actually has multiple rooms, but some of the hallways are rather narrow and the texturing is even messier. map04 is basically a crappy version of shoot.wad. map11 is a triangle with stairs that are disconnected for some inexplicable reason. map19...just look at the screenshot. map22, in contrast to the other maps, is unnecessarily big. map24 features a layout that includes damaging lava, which proved to be irritating in practice, but I'll admit that it's not a bad idea. The execution could have been better. map32-34 were idiotic maps in their own way. map17, map18, and map20 were okay maps, though.

    In addition to the mediocre gameplay and architecture, there are some other elements that make this wad feel like a jokewad sometimes. The weapon sounds have been changed unnecessarily, although I'll admit that the BFG firing sound made me laugh the first time I heard it. Its novelty wore off quickly, though. In addition, the regular door opening sound has been changed to the fast door opening sound for some reason. joe-ilya also changed the obituaries and quit messages, and most of them are really stupid. The titlepic, interpic, and the help screen were definitely made with zero effort. The status bar is also terrible. Finally, while I don't mind the music selection, there are a lot of punk rock MIDIs, and they do not fit many of the maps that they are used in.

    Overall, this is a sub-par deathmatch wad filled with low-effort maps. If you just want a bunch of random rooms and areas to frag people in without much thought, then this is the wad for you. Otherwise, I do not recommend playing this, especially if you take deathmatch seriously. There are many other deathmatch wads that play much better and look much prettier than this.

  • Friendly Fire - Greg Lafitte
    Doom 2 - Zandronum - Deathmatch - 177295 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: joe-ilya
    This is a mini-pack of five (not six as the author claims) weird and bad looking levels. They're small sized and usually have dead ends. Each area has a different weapon and one deathmatch start so the gameplay isn't good at all; you'll usually find yourself having to chaingun an SSG player in a tight area or a corridor.This level pack is so bad it even has a secret invulnerability sphere in MAP05, a Brit10-esque placed BFG in MAP01, a death pit and two megaspheres in MAP02, and a Romero head on MAP03. If playing versus bots is tedious with fraglimit set at 10, it'll be worse in multiplayer. Don't play or look at this, it's just boring to look at.

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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Thanks TGH and Bloodshedder for keeping new stuff alive :)

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I've just started playing MAYhem 2048. MAP01 was a good start. I'm on MAP02 but ready to skip it because it's so poorly lit.

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