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The /newstuff Chronicles #479

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  • Going Down - mouldy
    Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 8818430 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: dew
    Going Down was one of the major releases of yesteryear. It feels almost pointless trying to review it this many months after it got featured extensively at kmx's onemandoom blog, spotlighted at the first page of the 2014 Cacowards, discussed with the author himself in a Doom Radio interview, and dissected ad nauseam by everyone and their grandma, including yours truly, in the Doomworld Megawad Club. Can I actually bring up anything that wasn't said ten times already?

    Dry facts first. Going Down is a one man Boom megawad and that man is Cyriak Harris (aka mouldy), the guy with the videos. The weird ones, that someone linked to you and you went like "Oh, this is weird but strangely hypnotizing." You know, with silly disharmonic music and fractal... cows. mouldy started working on it sometimes mid-2013 and it took about a year to complete and kick out of the door, which is a ridiculously impressive, almost skillsawian pace. The wad was released in episodes, so by the time e3 was getting finished, mouldy had a herd of followers desperately waiting for their fix. This was an obvious sign of quality, but I endured and only played the thing whole when it was (almost) finalized and, to skip all the pointless talk, I had an amazing time. Let me count the ways.

    There's the high concept. The Doomguy inspects an UAC skyscraper by climbing on its roof in map01, finds it infested with zombies and hellspawn, so he decides to ride the elevator down and clear the building floor by floor to reveal all of its dirty secrets. And boy, does it go deep. You hit the ground floor at map07, and after an intense lobby fight that rehashes the classic Dead Simple setup in a cool manner, the way continues underground. That's when things start getting out of hand as mouldy, unrestricted by the building's square size and earthly design, unleashes his crazier ideas at poor Doomguy. Our hero descends through a storage space, an archive, a lab, sewers, a secret gladiator arena, a secret satanic chapel, a cave, another goddamn planet, etc. The list goes on until you descend into hell, and after an almost emotional farewell with the elevator you jump down a massive demon's mouth and continue your descent there. And that's when things start getting really out of hand... Some of the final maps are almost on par with mouldy's videos as far as imaginative weirdness goes. The concept is very low brow in a fun way, but thoroughly admirable. mouldy claimed one of his main drives to complete the project was to see if he could crank out ideas to keep almost every map unique. Well, he succeeded in that. The diversity surpasses even the legendary examples of the trade like Scythe and TVR, touching the god tier of Kama Sutra.

    Then comes the low concept. Despite all the previous praise, this is where the wad truly shines. mouldy is a pretty modern guy when it comes to gameplay. He doesn't pussyfoot around, so the mapset is pretty tough almost from map01. Conceptually all of the maps are quite small and short, which opens the option to use dick traps. That's the sort of ambush you're likely not going to survive unless you are prepared for it, which is of course impossible on your first playthrough. It would be mighty annoying in a 30+ min long map, but you just don't mind when it happens a minute in and the entire map lasts ten or so. Another modern gameplay trend is the attention to slaughter. This is often a codeword for nigh-unplayable, monster-packed BFG-fests that rely on perfect crowd herding, infallible strafing, blah blah... well, this is a different case and many of the established slaughter players probably wouldn't even mention GD as a slaughter wad, yet it is one. It just uses a lighter approach that can be described as "chaingun vs. zombies, RL vs. imps". You get to slaughter throngs of lightweights with more basic weapons than the BFG, but you rarely feel underpowered (unless you meet boss monsters), a much more cramped environment being your main enemy. The maps often play very different; they can be a sandbox, a linear twisted noodle or an arena, but throwing a lot of monsters at you at once is a staple. I like this approach and its hilarious splatter effect. If there's a similar wad, it is... you guessed it, Kama Sutra. At least its earlier maps.

    There's also the loving attention to detail that could be mentioned in both of the previous paragraphs. Lighthearted humour permeates the game, as Doomguy gets calls from his mum during the intermission texts and the monsters are chav demons from Liverpool or something equally English. Even better is the environmental narration... you know, that stuff sometimes praised in BtSX. Well, this is the real deal here. On map02 you shoot an office water tank and a bunch of pissed off imp repairmen teleport in, then you find out a hell knight is a mid-level management of the floor. Then you discover a Hitler shrine in the duct crawlspace with a few more mid-level managers there (heh). The megawad is riddled with ideas and jokes like that, and it's all clearly conveyed by the maps themselves, except when it gets a little surreal in e3. This overarching conceptualization helps overcoming the varying gameplay styles - sooner or later you're bound to hate a map or two, because it's too cramped or you don't like using the weapon given at pistol start or the gimmick is stupid, the usual. Well, I found myself blaming "the chapel" or "the crawl space" instead of "mouldy" and I happily restarted my feelings on the next map, because the author got me hooked. Bravo. I also need to mention how uneasy I felt when mouldy steered me away from the central elevator after conditioning me to end every map at the same starting point. That's environmental storytelling, kids.

    Finally, it needs to be mentioned what an achievement in Boom scripting this wad is. Going Down uses ridiculously convoluted voodoo dolls-on-conveyors setups, and I think mouldy had endless fun (and frustration) exploring this "analog computer" manner of scripting. Sometimes it feels almost too hacky, and it probably makes multiplayer vulnerable to failures, but such a Rube Goldberg way of emulating advanced scripts is undeniably romantic.

    If I had to point out some negatives, well, I didn't like a few maps, but other people liked those while I didn't mind the ones they hated. The final boss is a bit lame. mouldy's decision to limit himself just to stock textures is weird, because I'd love to see him go wild with exotic wall decor as well, but perhaps that was part of the assignment. It's undeniable mouldy got really creative inside his limitations, and it's crazy how varied the maps feel despite all the boring old textures. Oh, right... some of the weakest maps gameplay-wise go first. It stems from the project timeline and the project goals, but in this day and age you probably shouldn't put your weaker stuff first and hope the bored spoiled kids will grind through it.

    Overall, Going Down has become one of my personal favourites, and I applaud mouldy for creating such a complete and fun product.

    PS: Thanks to kmx for the screenshots.

  • Strife: Absolute Anarchy Deathmatch - Captain Toenail
    Strife - Zandronum - Deathmatch / CTF - 942020 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: JudgeDeadd
    This wad contains not only several deathmatch and CTF maps for Strife Zandronum multiplayer, but also a number of gameplay tweaks (such as removal of the inventory system and introduction of two separate skins, Rebel/Acolyte). I didn't get to test the gameplay online, and I'm no expert on what a good DM map should be like, but I can say that the maps are pretty nice visually. I've never been a fan of Strife's graphics, but Captain Toenail succeeds in making the levels look fine, especially thanks to making good use of Zandronum's features, such as slopes and 3D bridges. "SDM06: Western Tarnhill" (shot 6), "SDM10: Temple" (shot 8) and "SDM13: Um Bongo" (shot 10) stand out as the best-looking of the bunch.

    We don't see Strife uploads very often; it is the least popular of the canonical Doom-Heretic-Hexen-Strife tetrad, and Strife multiplayer matches are a rare animal - the fact that Captan Toenail stopped this wad's development at beta due to "lack of interest/playerbase" is indicative of that. Maybe one day we'll see a resurgence of interest in Strife, but for now Absolute Anarchy will be largely a curiosity for most people.

  • Hell's Ambiance - Mr. Chris
    Doom/Doom 2 - OGG Support - N/A - 100787105 bytes
    Reviewed by: JudgeDeadd
    A Doom 2 music replacement WAD. Instead of rockin' heavy metal, you'll now be hearing creepy ambient tracks. While they sound pretty good, I tried playing this with a couple of maps and didn't really like the results. In general, Doom doesn't seem to fit that sort of tense horror feeling. This music pack might be more fitting for playing truly dark and creepy maps, but if you try it with any random, level it will probably sound just plain cheesy.

    Note: This can replace music on Doom 1 maps as well, but only in ZDoom-based ports with support for the $musicalias feature.

  • Infernal Fortress 2.1 - Gothic
    Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 2491960 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: mouldy
    The text file describes this as a remake of a remake, so having no experience of any of the previous versions, I'm just going to review this one on face value. It's a slaughter map in the classic tradition of large rooms with lots of enemies, over a thousand in total, set in the various halls and adjoining caverns of a hellish castle. The visuals do a good job of furnishing the large areas with diabolical atmosphere, and the music is suitably fast paced to match the gameplay.

    As slaughter maps go, this is not very sophisticated, generally being a series of big spaces with lots of a particular monster. Occasionally there will be others sniping you from a balcony, but largely it plays much like a Doom version of Smash TV. Ammo and health is free and plentiful, and the killing is pretty mindless, and probably not massively challenging to experienced slaughter aficionados. I'd maybe recommend this to players who are new to slaughter gameplay to practice the basics. There are some challenging parts, mostly involving the custom enemies who are fairly overpowered, and occasional flurries of archviles. There are also some segments which are a bit of a grind, and some set-ups seem geared towards massacring hordes through doorways. But I had an hour of brainless fun wiping everything out.

  • Infernal Fortress - Gothic
    Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 1002253 bytes - (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: mouldy
    Here we have the older version of Infernal Fortress. I already reviewed the remake, and to be honest you'd be better off playing that one. This version is much the same but with uglier, more simplistic design and rougher gameplay. The remake also extends the ending of the wad a fair bit. This is only really of historical interest, specifically the history of this particular wad, and how the author has improved their mapping skills since then.

  • Extended Hell - Mr. Chris
    Doom/Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - N/A - 314840106 bytes
    Reviewed by: Philnemba
    Extended Hell is a more extended version of Hell's Ambiance, which is a collection of creepy horror music for your Doom/Doom 2 wads on your ZDoom-based source ports.

    Great for dark wads of your choosing, or for mappers who want to use these for their own maps.

  • The Asylum - Dean J. Lee
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 113913 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: mouldy
    Yes, this map really does start you off in a damaging nukage maze. I call it a maze, but it's really just a long winding corridor. What little health remains when you reach the end will be all you will get for quite a while, and that goes for your pistol too. This is a puzzle map, so don't play this expecting the usual Doom style of gameplay. One of the first encounters you face is a cyberdemon in a tight corridor, with only a few hapless zombiemen between you to soak up some rockets before you get splatted. The solution to this puzzle is of course: to open the secret door next to you, marked only by a misaligned texture. That should give you a fair idea of what to expect from now on.

    Obscure though some of the puzzles are, I feel I can't complain if I managed to get through it all without cheating, which I did in about half an hour. The map has a surreal twilight-zone ambience that goes some way to alleviating its visual shortcomings. But there is no avoiding the fact that the design is pretty basic and bland. If you like puzzle maps and can forgive the old-school stylings and trial and error gameplay then have a look. But be very careful how you save, as some of the puzzles can leave you in a hopeless situation if you do them wrong.

  • Crumpets - Ribbiks
    Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 1447807 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: JudgeDeadd
    A new pretty-looking mapset by Ribbiks. Where Stardate 20X6 was purple and Swim With The Whales was blue, Crumpets are brown. Each of these maps is carefully designed for great aesthetic value.

    The first few levels are more relaxing, and indeed they even have soothing music, but it doesn't mean they're all easy. The soundtrack later switches to more frantic and serious themes, and that's about when the difficulty rises to true Ribbiks levels. Maybe this mapset should have been called "Crampets", because most of the time you have very little room to maneuver around your foes. The limited ammunition supply doesn't help matters; ammo is always very sparsely allotted, but you shouldn't run out if you plan carefully and make proper use of these berserk packs.

    I enjoyed most of the maps, and think that their flow was excellently designed. "Crackerjack" stands out as being far less fun, mainly due to constant death by cheap spiderdemon snipers. This is a great mapset if you're looking for a challenge (the first few maps are easier, but don't get fooled; as I said, later maps require careful planning).

  • SURVIVAL - Peter "Pete" A. Schroeter
    Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 45484 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: JudgeDeadd
    An old E2-themed level. For a 1994 map (and someone's first mapping attempt to boot), it's not even that bad, with a nonlinear structure, interesting locations to explore, and some fairly nice visuals. Still, it's got typical '94 faults as well, such as visual errors (bad linedef pegging) and the fact that the exit is hidden behind a secret door. The progression is also weird: it's possible to reach the exit almost right away without seeing 95% of the map, and while there are keys strewn around, they are entirely unnecessary (the blue key doesn't even have a corresponding door!). There's also no real challenge; maybe this map was harder in 1994 when everyone played on keyboards, but today it's very easy.

    Skip this one.

  • Castle Arena - Inner Demon Entertainment
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Deathmatch - 21949 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Philnemba
    Castle Arena is a simple castle theme DM map. The map is sub par due to poor weapon and powerup placements (why are there two invulnerabilities close to each other?). The interior is too cramped, and the outside section is too open. There are monsters in this map, but who plays DM with monsters (unless you're bored and feel like doing a UVmax demo)?

    I honestly wouldn't recommend playing this, as there are better quality DM maps to play.

    NOTE: Although the author recommends glBoom-plus, I've also tested it in Chocolate Doom, so it should work fine in vanilla.

  • Death to all DOOMERS !!! - Simon Plant
    Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 22750 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: JudgeDeadd
    An average 1994 level. You know the drill: misaligned textures, vital keys hidden behind secret doors, weird texture clashes. Apart from one fairly nice outdoors part where you face quite a lot of Cacodemons and sergeants at once, it's not that very interesting. The map's not quite terrible, but ultimately not really worth checking out.

  • Dregmere Dam - The Architect
    Hexen - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 353351 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: GooberMan
    Oh, a Hexen map. This is a rarity. Especially since it's just a single map and not a hub.

    I can't even begin to imagine the mindset that went in to creating this one. The level starts off virtually unnavigable thanks to the number of Stalkers hiding in the swamp. Assuming you don't quit before beating through them all, opening the doors with terrible timing-based switches reveals hordes of every kind of monster just jammed in wherever felt like a good idea. Infighting was just pointless, and ammo can be very generously described as "scarce".

    Assuming you didn't ragequit after the first stupid monster room, you eventually come across missing textures, more stupid timing based doors and platforms that you trigger from a good chunk of the map away, more missing textures, outright mapping SNAFUs, a Korax without the required support scripts, and vast expanses of nothing. One of the expanses is so vast that you even get given Wings of Wrath to progress.

    F10. Why isn't every key on my keyboard F10? Maps like this should be severely discouraged from being made. Avoid like a plague that has mutated in to an even more dangerous plague.

  • Archaeologists Nightmare - The Architect
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 186702 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: JudgeDeadd
    Terrible! I admit I didn't get far into this map, but that's because the beginning completely put me off. It consists of wandering giant, featureless, dark rooms looking for incredibly tiny switches (see shot 2) hidden behind fake walls. Lots and lots of giant fake walls--it almost looks like the author was trying to create wall borders or something and failed. Even with the computer area map I couldn't figure out how to find the blue key. I've used noclip to take a peek at other parts of the level, and they seem just as ugly and unfun. A nightmare indeed (sorry, couldn't resist.)

  • Heretic and Hexen engine source code - Raven Software (Upload by Jonathan Dowland)
    Heretic / Hexen - N/A - N/A - 863296 bytes
    Reviewed by: GooberMan
    Probably doesn't need a review. It's the source code as advertised. Uploaded to the archives because the original Raven site has gone down and Sourceforge is doing everything it can to piss off the open source community and users of its software. As long as the archives stand, so too will the source code here.

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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Whaaaaaaatt!? Two Newstuff articles within 5 days apart from each other!? Impressive!

That Strife Multiplayer Deathmatch wad looks awesome!!!!....

Oh yeah... err.. I guess, "Going Down" is okay too.... heh heh heh :P

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Been a while since I've written reviews for newstuff...I should do this more often :)

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Bloodshedder said:

What calendar are you using?

The calendar that quotes the date of the final post from the previous Newstuff and compares it with the date of the very first post of the latest Newstuff.

My error, sorry.

Still though, this is an impressive stride! 14 days! :D

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Wehay! Good to see GD finally squeezing out of the newstuff pipe, maybe that will help improve the flow a bit. Thanks for the review!

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mouldy said:

Wehay! Good to see GD finally squeezing out of the newstuff pipe, maybe that will help improve the flow a bit. Thanks for the review!

Currently playing through Going Down, can confirm it's awesomeness. I'm glad dew called out the ridiculously impressive voodoo doll scripts used for dynamic effects and the great imagination put into the levels. The gameplay is absurdly fun and I love the way you use monsters to constantly violate any sense of personal space I have. Definitely one of my new favorites! Thanks for this mouldy :D

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I consider my upload of Extended Hell better than Hell's Ambiance due to the length of the tracks. Gives it more a D64/PSX Doom feeling.

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