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Bloodshedder

The /newstuff Chronicles #517

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  • VeryHard - yaqxsw
    Doom 2 - Single Player - ZDoom - 7.07 MB - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: gaspe
    VeryHard is a seven-map wad with a not very creative title, and as it says these levels will be very hard. If you remember yaqxsw some time ago released a single level, I'm Going to Hell, which is a long sequence of hard set piece encounters, and this wad is basically the same thing. I started to play on HMP and switched to HNTR after making some progress in MAP01; still, I couldn't finish a single level. The wad starts with a level set inside a subway; it's rather easy to start, but you have to mow down tons of enemies with the SSG as the most powerful weapon; later on you'll fight in tunnels that get filled with revenants.

    MAP02 start requires a lot of strategy; there's a group of cyberdemons, and you have to press two switches that open side hallways full of hell knights and barons. Them you can teleport to the other area, and after some good old circle-strafing, archviles start to teleport in everywhere. MAP03, you are confined in a central area with monsters that keep teleporting in, with tons of imps at the borders of the map that fill the sky with fireballs and massive lag. For some reason the author decided to put on MAP04 his previous work, I am Going to Hell.

    On MAP05 we start in an elevator with a cyberdemon, a plasmagun and few megaspheres. Then get ready for the next area where monsters teleport in followed by lots of archviles. On MAP06 you start to fight archviles without having cover or health. Shame that the map looks rather cool, albeit basically a ripoff of Deus Vult II's cathedral level, but I quit this level after I teleported to the first horde of archviles, and there are like 1600 of them in that level. The last level is a boss fight with giant recolored hell knights that shoot tons of projectiles while three IoS fill the map with monsters. To sum it up, this is ridiculous. I understand that this is probably supposed to appeal only the uber-hardcore players that speedrun chillax and the like, but even if I can see the strategies you have to find, sometimes on the whole this wad relies too much on luck. Another thing is it that the skill levels are implemented very badly. The archviles are really overused, and many times you can't even notice that they teleport inside all the mess, and randomly you start to get hit by them. "I tested on level UV and it passable"; this is taken from the text file and this is probably bullshit unless the author uploads videos where he plays savescumming all the way. But in all seriousness I saw a guy on YouTube that beat MAP01 and MAP02, so who knows. I don't know what else to say exactly; you'll find huge ridiculous set-ups here, and visually overall it isn't bad, or good actually; so I'll leave it up to you.

  • NH5 - TimeOfDeath
    Doom 2 - Single Player - Limit Removing - 1.92 MB - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: yakfak
    NH5 comprises three vicious maps which demand concentration, a high degree of accuracy, and a rather specific plan of attack that the player must work to discover, this brain overload only enhanced by its soundtrack: semi-improvised extreme metal that feels rooted in grindcore. Certainly not for the faint hearted!

    The opening two maps begin in relatively fair ways, providing a slaughter arena or kill corridor along with your favourite demon-fumigating machine, the BFG9000, and simply let you run wild for a moment. From that small victory onwards, however, the BFG is used frequently to prevent ambushes rather than fight through them - either you're firing a burst directly into the latest ambush closet or all hell breaks loose, usually in Arch-Vile form. The game-play becomes rather scary for that reason and it keeps you on your toes.

    The third level is more of a feast, providing all the heavy weapons and a variety of encounters, some grindy, some absurd, some bloody, all asking the player whether they should be firing from the spot they entered from or dashing further along - can the arachnotron horde be dragged towards the revenant horde, saving me plasma, or will they spend the whole map blocking my progress? It's easy to get stuck or overwhelmed here, but TimeofDeath has kindly provided walk-through demos of all three levels. The skill demand is dizzyingly high at times, but if you can reproduce these feats then it'll feel very satisfying indeed!

    The gimmick here is that these slaughter puzzles are entirely bereft of health, so you'll see no megasphere antidote to any of these encounters - if you take a revenant rocket to the ear then that's where it'll stay lodged until you either exit or perish, a gambit that really raises the stakes and hopefully encourages you to master the encounters rather than just shoulder-barge your way through them. A good challenge to master players and an eye-opener to the rest of us; No Health Five is a set I recommend to all.

  • Noirlab - ChekaAgent
    Doom 2 - Single Player - Boom Compatible - 128.5 KB - (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: gaspe
    Noirlab is a single map that uses only the textures of Noirpack, which is also required to run the wad. Interesting choice, but it didn't turn out very well; everything is dull in this map. It tries to give some creepy feelings, but you just go through a bare empty room to another empty room, and the lightning is really lacking. Music was too repetitive after a while. The action is always frontal, and you are always well supplied with ammo. At least it tries to make something, but it's full of bad decisions and the result is bad.

  • From Home To Hell - Carlos Lastra
    Doom 2 - Single Player - ZDoom Compatible - 931.86 KB - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: gaspe
    Carlos Lastra isn't a new face in the recent /newstuff Chronicles, and this time instead of a single level he released a little episode of seven maps for Doom 2. This mapset is done in a rather interesting style as there's no SSG in all the levels, and they follow a style that's very close to the Ultimate Doom. The start in what is our apartment was reminiscent of Hellbound's first level, and from there we will progress through some tech/industrial level which in the end start to get corrupted by hell. Visually it looks good and it has that mood of a Doom 1-like level done with Doom 2 assets. The gameplay relies a lot on the hitscanners, and the maps have plenty of closets that will create some nice ambushes, as the released monsters will come to many different directions. I have to note that MAP04 is unfortunately broken, as there's a door that won't open. My only complaint is that there could have been some more rockets on the way. All in all it's a pretty good wad, and the maps aren't really long.

  • END POINT - Alexander "Eternal" S.
    Doom 2 - Single Player - Limit Removing - 1003.98 KB - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: gaspe
    Alexander S., better know as Eternal, doesn't really need an introduction around here, but just in case you don't really know, he's a quite prolific Russian mapper that released really cool WADs, which unless you are really out of touch with the Doom community you should have least heard of: Epic/Epic 2 or Hell Ground. Now to the wad in question, END POINT is a little episode for Doom 2 with seven maps. We are quite far from the grandeur of his previous works, and the maps go for a more simple vibe in their themes and structures, though Eternal still shows that he's a master of mapping.

    The visual style of the colors and textures combinations are really cool; the stock textures are largely used, but there's also lots of custom stuff. The action was pretty good and the monster placement can be described as very precise, though I don't feel that there are some moments that really stand out except for the MAP05 start.

    The most interesting thing about this wad is the feeling that it conveys; it seems like it's a sort of a tribute to the good wads of the 90's, or that it refers to the styles of that era. There aren't actual homages, but the whole wad is filled with places that seem to be, or to have, hints of very old works that Eternal used as inspiration. But we can only guess, and for now you should play this wad if you haven't already. Probably you will have some great expectations from this author, but this isn't something that will blow your mind; it's a more comfy work, almost intimistic, but nonetheless really good.

  • Blueworrior's MIDI pack - Lewis "Blueworrior" Harvey
    Doom/Doom 2 - N/A - MIDI Support - 46.87 KB
    Reviewed by: Not Jabba
    This pack contains 17 MIDIs created by Blueworrior for Freedoom 1 and 2. All of the tracks are on the shorter side (with the longest ones clocking in around 2:30), and they're generally fairly simple. They don't have the narrative arcs of Mark Klem's music, the strong refrains of Jimmy's, the moody beauty of stewboy's or Alfonzo's, or the consistent heart-pounding energy of Doomhuntress's. What they do have is a basic Doomy feel that will work well for many classic-styled wads. Most of them are driven by rock instrumentations, particularly electric guitar chords, and they emphasize power over melody (but without getting super galloppy, thankfully).

    The only real problem with this selection is that many of the songs are significantly under two minutes long, which is almost always too short for a good Doom MIDI, and none of those tracks ever quite get off the ground. My favorite tracks were generally the longest ones. D_E3M1 has a bit of a Tom Mustaine vibe, with some nice organ riffs backing up the guitar. D_E3M7 has more of a narrative to it than the other tracks, with a shift from hard guitar to a more creepy, hellish mood around halfway through. D_E3M8 is the one slower, broodier MIDI in the pack, and it's a good song for either Doom or Heretic. I didn't find any of the others particularly memorable, but most of these MIDIs would be good choices for short, classic-styled levels (one of them was already used in Echelon, for instance), especially if you want to take a bunch of them and put together a whole set of levels with a cohesive soundtrack. Worth checking out if you're looking to add to your MIDI library.

  • Glass Rubberband - CorndogScammer
    Ultimate Doom - Single Player - GZDoom - 389.78 KB - (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: lil'devil
    Glass Rubberband is the author's first map, and it can be best described as an ambitious, but quite poorly implemented map.

    The premise is simple: there are two buildings connected with a huge outdoor area. The building you start in has a blue key door (behind which is the exit) and the key to that door is in the other building. All you have to do is go to that other building, pick up the key and return. Unfortunately, for such an easy concept to implement, the map has many, many flaws.

    First of all, you will have massive framerate drops if you play this map on a weak computer like me. This is most likely caused by that huge outdoor area I mentioned earlier.

    Secondly, the gameplay is really bad. The main issue here is the ammo - there's not enough of it, and I'm sure it's impossible to kill all the enemies on the map (quite a lot of them are barons, by the way). The monster placement is also bad, as most enemies are just stupidly packed in groups. Skill levels don't change anything aside from increasing amount of monsters in said groups and changing amount of ammo. Also, on easy skill levels the amount of monsters is way too low, usually one monster per encounter (yet there's still not enough ammo to kill all the barons).

    Lastly, while the map has some cool features like slopes and 3D bridges, it overall feels pretty minimalistic; there are almost no decorations, and many places feel quite empty. There are also many questionable design choices: for example, on easy skill levels the exit to the map is blocked by marble columns, so there's no way to exit the map on ITYTD and HNTR (it's probably a joke, mocking the player for choosing an easy difficulty). There's also a teleporter that moves the player 10 meters away and serves no purpose at all. This map is pretty bizarre.

    Anyway, in conclusion I would like to say that I do NOT recommend this map, unless you're looking for something weird to play. I hope the author will learn from his mistakes and his next map will be more playable than this.

  • Blueworrior's Terminator MIDI Track - Lewis "Blueworrior" Harvey
    Doom 2 - N/A - MIDI Support - 2.83 KB
    Reviewed by: Not Jabba
    The author refers to this as a "Terminator style" MIDI, but what they actually mean is that it's a remake of the Terminator theme. A good one, though. The Terminator theme is a great example of how powerful a very simple melody can be, and it fits pretty well in many Doom wads. The instrumentation in Blueworrior's version would work particularly well for colorful tech levels like the ones found in CC4, Mutiny, and many other modern wads. A good choice if you're willing to use the movie song but want something different than the standard version.

  • Thria Complex - Gunsmith
    Doom 2 - Single Player - ZDoom Compatible - 973.98 KB - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Not Jabba
    Thria Complex is old-school, but not Romero old-school. It plays like one of those mid-2000s AgentSpork-era levels with gratuitous ZDoom features, SNES-style music, and almost all of the action coming at you from the front in a very arcadey style. It even has that one palette -- you know the one I'm talking about -- with the aqua blues and the more washed-out green range. It's hard to tell whether the whole level is intended as an homage or if it's just the author's preferred mapping style, but my impression from the music and other added elements is that this level thinks it's a bigger deal than it actually is. But maybe that's part of the fun?

    Most of the basic ZDoomisms are here: slopes, translucent glass windows, spontaneous enemy teleport entrances. No particle fountains, thankfully. The level of detailing is lower than you'd see in a Tormentor667 or AgentSpork map, and truth be told, Thria Complex looks kind of flat and generic. The action is fine for what it is; there are no surprises whatsoever, and it's pretty easy to play. For what it's worth, it does not end with a melodramatic Cyberdemon battle. This is an okay map, but I would skip it unless you have a particular type of nostalgic itch that needs scratching.

  • Spidersilk - Zan-zan-zawa-veia
    Doom 2 - Single Player - Limit Removing - 988.1 KB - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Not Jabba
    Zan-zan-zawa-veia (better known to forumgoers as yakfak) is known for creating weird, challenging levels with somewhat puzzle-like gameplay, and Spidersilk is no exception.

    In some ways, however, this map is a lot less extreme than yakfak's Cacoward-winning Sheer Poison. It can be tough to know where to go next in the large, interwoven dungeon, but there's never a spot where you literally hit a wall and can't go anywhere until you've solved some obscure puzzle; keep hunting around, and you'll find everything you need without much trouble. Ammo is pretty plentiful, though the placement is intended to keep you moving; it sometimes feels tight if you try to fight every monster as it comes, but there's always a small cache of ammo around some nearby corner, allowing you to stock up quickly and return to the fray.

    The real challenge is in the enemy placement. The level is full of windows and fencing that give you a view into nearby areas, which means that monsters have plenty of opportunity to shoot at you from multiple directions as you try to run the gauntlet. The major areas are populated with Mancubuses, Arachnotrons, and a couple of Spider Masterminds, and you'll start encountering these high-tier monsters very early on, when you don't yet have the resources to deal with all of them. The most profitable strategy is to clear out the weaker monsters (Sergeants, Imps, and Cacodemons) as you make your initial push through the level, let the more powerful opposition get softened up a bit through infighting, and then deal with them as you return through the main areas later with better weaponry and more ammo. The Spiderdemons in particular will help you by killing some of the other enemies, but yakfak's use of them is excellent, and I was never able to eliminate them through infighting alone; they remained a constant threat as I moved through the level until I was finally able to kill them.

    There are a couple of modified enemies that add to the challenge as well. Cacodemons are faster and shoot two balls at a time, but they only take a single SSG shot to bring down. As a result, they're a more immediate threat than ever, but you can combat them without having to slow your pace. There's also a spectral version of the Arch-Vile that has lower health and no ranged attack, but basically just runs around the level resurrecting enemies. These guys will be a thorn in your side until you manage to kill them all, especially since the layout allows them to travel all over the level.

    If you add up everything I've said so far, you'll realize this level is all about constantly moving around, trying to stay ahead of the threats, collect resources, and figure out how to progress. It's exactly the sort of puzzle I like to see in Doom -- the kind that makes you examine the big picture rather than just staring into every corner trying to find tiny switches.

    The wad also has an alternate gameplay mode ("Painful and Stupid") in place of skill 2. This variant makes the level even more open by removing some decorative obstacles, ditches the spectral AVs and spiders, and completely overhauls the enemy balance. It's full of difficult or meaty enemies that weren't used (or rarely appeared) in the regular version of the level, including chaingunners, Hell Knights, plenty of Pain Elementals, and at least one Cyberdemon. I didn't go very far in this mode, but it looks quite tough, and it seems like it's even more focused on forcing you to collect ammo and weapons at the start in order to get your feet under you. Many people may enjoy this mode more; personally, I prefer the strange and spider-infested UV.

  • Big Trouble at Deimo's Base - Carlos Lastra
    Ultimate Doom - Single Player - ZDoom Compatible - 84.5 KB - (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Not Jabba
    This is the first Carlos Lastra map I've played, but anyone who follows The /newstuff Chronicles is probably already aware of him, as he's been building a strong reputation as a Doom 1 mapper who's been making progressively better maps. Sure enough, I really enjoyed this one. It has nice E2 visuals with a couple of very good looking main areas, and the gameplay is simple and fast-paced. The layout is somewhat nonlinear, but very compact, with essentially no backtracking. There's plenty of room to move around and lots of weak enemies to fight, making for a quick, easy playthrough using mainly the shotgun. Somebody on /idgames mentioned that the map has only E1 enemies, but maybe they played on a lower difficulty; I fought three Cacos on UV, two of which were at the center of a fun, mildly challenging final battle. The optional blue key area is interesting in that both the key and the door are clearly visible, but figuring out how to get the key is a secret.

    There's not much else to say, but what this level does, it does well. Based on what I've seen from this map, I'd love to play a full E2 replacement from Lastra, or to see what he can do with Doom 2. Recommended.

The /newstuff Chronicles is a usually-weekly roundup of new items uploaded to the /idgames archive, and it is written entirely by community members like you. If you wish to contribute, the /newstuff Review Center is the place to do so. Register on the Doomworld Forums first if you don't already have an account, because you need one to submit reviews. Special thanks goes to the nearly 300 users who have submitted reviews over the past several years.

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Cool! Echelon uses one of the tracks? Gonna have to download it the megawad and see for myself.

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About VeryHard: It actually isn't that hard...

Spoiler

with sv_infiniteammo 1 and, occasionally, sv_fastweapons 1, on ITYTD skill level.

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bzzrak said:

About VeryHard: It actually isn't that hard...

Spoiler

with sv_infiniteammo 1 and, occasionally, sv_fastweapons 1, on ITYTD skill level.

Spoiler

That's cheating though! :P

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Are there any DM players out there who can review the two Disaster Area wads? Looks like they're the same map, it's just that one is for Doom 1 and the other is for Doom 2. The Tunnels and Fuzz 2016 are also both DM. There's also a WildWeasel weapons mod for anybody who likes messing around with custom weapons.

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Csonicgo said:

Guess I better finish my three reviews.


You can do it!

Since you're reviewing that Chex Quest expansion, I take it you figured out how to run the damn thing?

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gaspe said:

Stop making pointless bumps and make a review instead.


Challenge accepted! Romero's Heresy, here I come!

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