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    The /newstuff Chronicles #110


    Julian

    What a crappy week to do newstuff reviews. Linguica is gone, everything is grey, everyone is a little sad, and Helioth releases nine wads all at once (some of which were originally created in 1994) only as a personal attack on me as newstuff reviewer. Yes, he knew it was my turn and he knew I had a busy week and not enough time to review twelve wads, and he did it on purpose!
    What also makes this a crappy week is that my third therapist this month is telling me that I'm "paranoid", whatever the hell that means. I think he's working with Helioth.

    To tell the truth, I actually had more than twelve wads this week, but one was a new beta of a level we already reviewed here (so not much point, is there?) Plus, our good friend the Ultimate Doomer was nice enough to carry over three of them over to his week to lighten my load. So for those who want the latest beta of the Zdoom TC/Megawad Underworld, it's here.

    Oh, and tell me what you think of the format.


    The Underground Base by AlexMax
    No port needed DOOM2 Deathmatch .
    One of your typical good deathmatch wads. Good balance, easy to look at, and all-in-all a good way to waste a few minutes of your unsurpassibly boring lives. Of course, it's a small arena, so after a while it'll seem like there are no surprises left. Don't blame AlexMax, though. Deathmatch laws clearly state, and I quote; "Wad must be predictable enough that players of said wad must become familiar with the wad to the point of irritation within the course of no more than fifteen minutes. Do not dispose of in fire or feed to transients."
    If you're starved for deathmatch wads, get it. It's probably the best one this week.

    The Spring Ballad by Helioth
    No port needed DOOM Single/Coop .
    I love this wad. Wait! Actually, now that I think of it, quite the opposite. I hate it! A thousand burning scimitars buried deep into the eye sockets of every sane person's loved ones on this earth can reach a threshold of pain only I have recently been subjected to. Well, that's a slight exaggeration.
    If you must know why I suffer from it; Spring Ballad is horribly under-detailed, with large open rooms with simple, and in some cases, copied and pasted architecture, such as a room full of identical pillars.
    It also has no theme that I can see. At first you're in an outdoor area, and step into a wood/brick building (I have no idea if it's a mansion, military base, or a brothel) that quickly turns into marble/hellish and oddly enough you soon come across a tentacle wall formation with a big-ass UAC logo on stainless steel right in the middle of it. And for some reason there's one room crammed full of computers, stacked to the ceiling. You'd think the people who occupied this strange whatever-it-is would space out their computers a little rather than stick them all into one room and then leave the rest completely bare.
    Monster and item placement might as well be random. You'll have no trouble fighting all the small/medium monsters with health and ammo littered all over the place. You get the rocket launcher really early on and I barely ended up using it because of all the bullets and shells I could find.
    And if that wasn't bad enough, there are switches in every third room to make what's left of your relatively undamaged brain cells join their siblings in eternal agony. A lot of guessing and re-exploring will go on. One room has four switches that open the same door--behind which is another door requiring a key--in the same room. After hitting the first switch, I hit the other three to find out what they do. They made a clicking sound. That's pretty much it. I must have hit those switches twenty times or more, running around to see if they opened a timed door that I had to find before time ran out. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that they were completely pointless, until I opened it in a wad editor. It *technically* proved me wrong, but I still think in many ways I'm right.
    I am heavily under the impression this is the author's first release. And from the number of other wads dumped into newstuff by Helioth this week I'd say he/she/it is not likely to be discouraged by bad first tries. Let this wad be yet another testament to the concept that you can only get better after your first level.

    The Imp Fiesta by Helioth
    No port needed Doom Single/Coop .
    Uhm, ahem. Well, maybe this was a deliberate ploy by Helioth. Release a very bad wad and follow it up with a good one. I wouldn't call it the best wad ever, but compare it to Spring Ballad and it's groin-grabbingly transcendant (yes, I stole that line from the Simpsons).
    It starts out with a hallway with a shotgun and a switch. Hitting the switch raises the whole hall into an arena full of enemies. It's been done before, but it worked well this time around. It would have been better with enough enemies to make an adequate ambush, but still not bad.
    Gameplay is more or less straightforward and a little boring, but the author created a nice sewer effect by arranging the sectors to create a circle effect (the closest you can come without slopes). (Note: This annoyed me a little because I did the same thing once and now I find out it's already been done.) The text file admits there's not much aesthetics, but I think there's more than you would give him credit for. If the transition from Spring Ballad to Imp Fiesta is like this, I anticipate all the other wads he's released this week.
    Kind of a spoiler here, but I liked the ending where you hit a bunch of switches and end up fighting six barons.

    Cleaning Of All Kind by Helioth
    No port needed DOOM Single/Coop .
    !
    A miraculous transition. This one, Helioth's third release, actually has some nice detail, and the new music replacement gives a nice feel to it. (His other two wads just took other music from doom.) It's challenging, too. I actually ended up getting hit several times from enemies I didn't know existed. That means some great monster placement. Now and then, I think we all try to create this effect, but it's hard to do, as most doomers are very good about checking invisible corners and behind boxes.
    There's a decent ammo balance too. In one battle, I ran out of chaingun ammo and ended up having to kill two cacodemons in a cramped stairway with a shotgun. Easier said than done, children. Especially if you suck like I do.
    COAK impressed in every aspect, not like that caffeine-free COAK, which really . . . sorry. Lame joke, but I couldn't resist.

    DoomsDay'95 by Andre Christen
    No port needed DOOM2 Deathmatch .
    You guys are weird. A very linear deathmatch wad, with two BFGs, a plasma rifle, two chainguns, two super shotguns, one chainsaw, and only one single-barrel shotgun. Riiiighhht...
    If that wasn't weird enough, someone seems to like using light textures in very inappropriate places. Also, there are six maps in this one wad, and yet every single one of them is exactly the same! Why? In case someone accidentally hits the exit switch five times?
    It's not to vary the music, that's for sure. Every single one of these maps uses the same one (from map18 originally). So for no reason that I can think of, this wad is six times the size it had to be. Happy downloading.
    That said, it's not such a bad wad. Just weird.

    DoomsDay'95 One Player by Helioth
    No port needed DOOM2 Deathmatch .
    This was originally what DoomsDay'95 was going to be, before Andre Christen helped out. Helioth decided to re-release it for some reason.
    Anyway, I'll say this much; It's much much uglier and squarish, and it's a much more awkward shape. The flow was greatly improved for this.
    However, I did also notice a couple of things that were actually better about this wad before it was "helped".
    First: There are more pillars. That means something to hide behind. In the basement shot--Screenshot 1 of both wads. See Doomsday'95 above--you'll notice that there's only one way in and out. That means in the revamp, if someone gets cornered they have nothing for cover. Why did they take out what was perfectly good?
    Second: There are less dead ends. A deathmatch philosophy for me is that most (if not all) of the rooms should have at least two exits. This one has a lot of dead ends, but not as many as in the "fixed" version. Hey! Let's make it more annoying!
    Third: There's no BFG or plasma rifle. Whether or not to include these weapons usually is an author-to-author judgement call. Some prefer it, some don't. The author seemed to not want them, but apparently his helper monkey says they're a must and insists he change them. Way to take him under your wing, Mr. Guru.
    And one more thing, that's not so important: I kind of like this super-shotgun-hidden-inside-a pillar idea. There are two switches inside, to open and close the pillar door so you can hide and wait until someone comes in, then open the door and fire away. It would probably be better if it was a turbo door, but it's still not a bad idea. Another good idea (I hope)that comes to mind is putting a few weapons in front of the pillar, so if you're hiding and you hear the weapon pickup noise, you know someone's outside and you can sneak attack. In the finalized version, the whole pillar is discarded. I would say that the final release of Doomsday'95 probably is slightly better, but there were a lot of potentials this wad had that could have been improved upon but instead were just trashed. Wonderfun.

    The Twin Brothers by Helioth
    No port needed DOOM2 SP/Co-op/DM .
    Umm. Okay. It's a nice non-linear castle/mansion with a fun music replacement that makes it feel kind of epic. And some sounds from Heretic were thrown in, for no reason that I can see. But the weird part is the voodoo doll. Your "Twin Brother".
    Whatever Helioth is on, he's slowly upping the dosage as he makes levels. Marijuana and beer while mapping; Just say no.
    Still a good level, though.

    Caesar by Helioth
    No port needed DOOM2 SP/Co-op/DM .
    This is easily Helioth's weirdest wad. I remember when I saw the movie Gladiator and a friend of mine says to me "You should do a gladiator level in doom". Needless to say, I gave him a dirty look and tried with no avail to explain to him that gladiator arenas do not make good doom levels.
    Helioth, on the other hand, thinks they are and created a fun albeit strange level with the same idea. The text file says: This time you will play the role of a brave gladiator fated to die under the fangs of dozens of ugly and starving monsters. You will be lucky if Caesar, who is looking forward very much for your death, applauses. However he doesn't, don't worry because hundreds of spectators will enjoy to see your blood spilling on the ground of the amphitheatre.
    Sounds interesting to me. Just a couple of things wrong with that little scenario. All the spectators are UAC marines, and you fight with plasma rifles, rocket launchers, and super shotguns. You don't think Caesar is going to applaud when he sees weapons from a thousand years in the future, tearing apart one-eyed spherical monsters and rocket-launching skeletons? Weirder still is the textures. Is that the corpses of babies I see in screenshot number one?
    And as mind-warping icing on your psychadelic cake, the spectators are mannequins, aka voodoo dolls. That means stray fireballs that hit the spectators will hurt you. It also means one of the big doom bugs might come into play (and it did for me) where you can end up with 0% health and no weapons but are still able to run around like a chicken with its head cut off.
    P. S. The music replacement is nice, but really really repetitive.

    Tenacity by Francois Coppex (Helioth)
    No port needed DOOM2 SP/Co-op/DM .
    This map's name is Tenacity. Damn Straight. Those of you who have been reading my other reviews this week already know Helioth is a tenacious guy. Actually naming one of his maps that is quite an irony. I wonder if that crossed his mind when he uploaded them.
    Anyway, the first part of the map is a regurgitation of his circular pipe idea in Imp Fiesta, except that it just keeps going. Now I know why the sewer in Batman Doom was so squarish. The weird shape of this pipe area makes it hard to dodge, and while this adds a little bit of challenge it can also be a little frustrating. One fun part, though, is when you kill an imp and its corpse slides along until it reaches the end of the pipe.
    It doesn't stay like this, though. And to tell the truth, when I left the pipes I was really relieved. It saved me the trouble of complaining about how boring a level full of pipes was. It goes on to a dark maze full of spectres (which isn't really a good thing. There's a mock2 level like that) and some ledges above a big lava pool with teleporters that help in getting from place to place. If I didn't say this earlier, I should now. Helioth loves sticking teleporters into things. I guess it's not necessarily a bad thing, but try to vary it a little, man.
    It would be a pretty good map if not for the big dark maze. I ended up using the automap a lot more than is healthy, and it's kind of hard to kill bad guys if you're not watching where you're going. It takes up too much of the time you'd be spending on the map, and it just keeps twisting and turning and making you step over the same invisible teleports over and over again.
    Do yourself a favour and IDCLIP through it.

    Fireworks by Francois Coppex (Helioth)
    No port needed DOOM2 SP/Co-op/DM .
    The last one by Helioth. I breathe a sigh of relief. Not because his maps are bad (well not all of them) but having played and reviewed all of his wads now, that means I'm 80% done this week. And that's a huge release of pressure.
    Also, fortunately this is a really small level. As you might guess, he used all the weird textures in the other wads. What makes this one different is that it's a big monster brawl, full of cacodemons, mancubii, hellknights, and imps. It's pretty fun if you like arena-ish wads, as there's pretty much no puzzle to it. But it's loaded with ammo (pun not intended). Everywhere you look, there's ammo. See shots two and three. I checked the level statistics just to see how much. There are 155 monsters, ranging from small to medium-sized with a couple of barons thrown in. And there are 57 boxes of shotgun ammo alone. You don't need to do a lot of math here to see that there's about a shellbox-to-monster ratio of 1:3. Even the larger monsters in this map don't require a whole box of shells to kill them. If they were all barons, you could kill a third of them with the shotgun ammo alone. But they're not all barons, obviously. And you don't just have a shotgun, either. There are chainguns, (plenty of ammo for those), a plasma rifle, and a rocket launcher.
    The real difficulty lies in the health and close-quarters I suppose. I just think the amount of ammo is rediculous. Here's a word of advice; Do not leave enemies behind, even if you plan to come back to them later. Kill every enemy at first sight. You'll always have the ammo to do it, and if you leave them behind they grow in numbers surprisingly fast. A good download if you like those insane shooting maps, despite the shotgun fetish.
    As a side-note, I'd like to say that It's been a nice journey through the years with Helioth and it feels like I actually know him, simply from his levels. See you around, Oth. Can I call you Oth? . . . sorry.

    Doom Down DM2 by Devin Afshin
    ZDOOM DOOM2 Deathmatch .
    A Zdoom deathmatch wad. That says it all, doesn't it? Well, there's some light scripting involved, some nice-looking teleports, and a scrolling effect. There are a couple of secret areas, which I'm not sure how to get to as well. All in all, though, I'd say this is pretty normal for a deathmatch wad, with originality sprinkled conservatively on top. Pretty good detail though.

    PHOBOS: ANOMALY REBORN by Chris Lutz of The Chaos Crew
    BOOM/MBF Ultimate DOOM Single-Player .
    As well as Boom or MBF, the text file says it can be run in zdoom 1.23 beta 33, but there are really gross errors. I wouldn't recommend it, then. It ran fine for me in Prboom.
    Now, you don't have to play Phobos: AR very long before you notice the detail. Amazing is a word I don't use often, and I'm using it now. The texture use, lighting, and creative use of architecture all are incredibly done. The wad is also very challenging. Monster placement is good, ammo balance is excellent, but it's the lack of health that will really give you a hard time. The dehacked patch included limits your health to 55% and the stimpacks are so sparingly placed it's barely possible in most of the levels to reach 100%. The monsters of course will be there to help make sure of that.
    But what really got me was some of the effects thrown in. At one point in E1M2 I actually halted in the middle of the game and stopped and stared and wondered how the hell Chris Lutz managed to do that without scripting. I'm still puzzled as I'm writing this. I'm sure it's nothing a good swig of gravy won't cure, but I really would like the author to drop me an e-mail or at least post in this comments section if only to explain how some of the game's effects were done.
    Now, I did spend a lot of time wandering and looking for things and it gets really annoying when you re-explore a giant level several times looking for that one switch, or key, or door (!) but if you want a straight-forward kill-that-guy-then-that-guy-and-then-kill-that-guy wad then you can download this, Wise-ass. (ftp://3darchives.in-span.net/pub/idgames/levels/doom2/Ports/g-i/iamevil4.zip)
    Chris Lutz also has a sense of humour. He included five of his old wads as a joke (or so I assume) that were never released. They're kind of hidden, so sorry if I ruined the surprise, but hey, that's why I'm here. Personally, I was disappointed. His description of the levels is that they're TERRIBLE. Yes, he used all caps. Yet, when I played them they weren't all that bad. Here I was expecting monsters stuck in each other and 1024x1024 rooms full of cyberdemons with a crushing ceiling and all the walls are scrolling. No, it's just a few slightly bad wads so he could make a pun about the title (P:AR/subP:AR). Well, what are you going to do? Oh well, that's not really why you downloaded Phobos: AR, anyway.
    So, synopsis: Awesome. Recommendation: Download now. Hitler: Still dead. Any questions?
    <Julian> who killed Kennedy ?
    <_Hyena_> Joe Pesci

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    Identifying nice and clearly near the top of each review which port (if any), which doom version and which play styles apply is a good idea, but I'd have to go with the general opinion that overall it doesn't look right somehow.

    For info P:AR plays just fine for me on the latest Zdoom (2.0.34). In fact Randy Heit went to some lengths to ensure that it would.

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    Chris did the multiple actions at the same time by using a voodoo doll (another player 1 start) on a conveyor off-map which triggers W* events. It's an effect that doesn't work in deathmatch.

    First instance I know it was used was Cyb's Artica when you shoot a crate and it moves horizontally.

    For example, in the map where a tub fills with water along with crates seeming to rise as the water rose... a voodoo would be in a conveyor sector off map with a door sector blocking it from moving down a "hallway". When you hit the switch, that door is lifted and the voodoo doll goes over sequential triggers, changing sectors to raise to nearest floor and change sector floor... and after they're almost done, the crates are raised.

    You'll notice in ZDoom that sometimes when you hit switches the player seems to hop a bit. That's because Chris likely used a lower floor rather than open door to set the voodoo loose and the player is going over the lowering floor once it reaches 24 units above the conveyor floor. I consider it a bug that the voodoo can affect the real player's viewpoint... it doesn't work that way in doom2.exe/boom/mbf, etc.

    Um, so yeah. I've built some "voodoo scripts" in my maps before; they're just unreleased, of course. :) Oh, except prwrsv07. That's how those metal blocks seem to move horziontally near the end. Useless demo thing that I ended up leaving in... the sound of the floors moving is annoying too.

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    AFAIK you'd don't even need voodoo dolls when you're designing for Boom. There should be a line flags "can be activated by monsters" or something.

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    The Sub:PAR levels are actually good imo. Sorta like cut down P:AR levels. They look a lot less fancy, but they have a cleaner, crisper look about them. They actually remind me more of Inferno than P:AR. I think large scale architecture looks better without a lot of intricate detail.

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    Lizardcommando said:

    Hey, where's mine (barfight.zip)? I sent in a wad today, so it's probably not in there, i'm guessing, right?


    I just uploaded a new map to incoming and saw Barfight still in there. It will be out of there in a day or two, and put in newstuff. Your review is next week like mine.

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    I reckon these are Hyena's best and most helpful reviews so far - plenty of information and insight. The eye-socket abuse didn't add much value though...

    The format looks OK to me (at least as it appears as a news article; it loses a lot in the conversion to a forum post - part of the Twins review has been eaten by some bug, for instance). One possible improvement would be to include, as part of the tabular info, an indication of how many maps there are in each wad. I think the smilies are a good way to provide a succinct overall assessment.

    I've played most of Helioth's wads over the last few days and quite enjoyed them. In fact, Fireworks will be my next demo recording recommendation on Nanami's site. The category I'm proposing might come as a bit of a surprise though. ;)

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    Just thought I would try something. Well, if no one likes it, I'll just change it for next time.

    Heh. I thought people would think the smilies were dumb. I didn't think there'd be a problem with the tables.

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    Afterglow said:

    Chris did the multiple actions at the same time by using a voodoo doll (another player 1 start) on a conveyor off-map which triggers W* events.

    Yep. The first time I saw it was in Emil's map for Caverns of Darkness, and I've been hooked ever since.

    Afterglow said:

    You'll notice in ZDoom that sometimes when you hit switches the player seems to hop a bit. That's because Chris likely used a lower floor rather than open door to set the voodoo loose and the player is going over the lowering floor once it reaches 24 units above the conveyor floor. I consider it a bug that the voodoo can affect the real player's viewpoint... it doesn't work that way in doom2.exe/boom/mbf, etc.

    Interesting -- I never really noticed that; and yes, I would consider it a bug. However, it raises questions about what should the phantom player affect (can he take damage? etc.)

    Afterglow said:

    Useless demo thing that I ended up leaving in... the sound of the floors moving is annoying too.

    I had to move the dummy sectors f-a-r away from the actual playing area to keep the sound from interfering. FYI, that's also why the fans in level 2 and the gears in level 6 stop moving; otherwise, you would hear the annoying clunks in other parts of the level.

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    Now I want to know wtf happened to my Underworld Beta 4. It would have been the top thing in here (aside from P:AR). I uploaded it on like Monday. It SHOULD have been in here. Next /newstuff then?

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    Searcher said:

    I just uploaded a new map to incoming and saw Barfight still in there. It will be out of there in a day or two, and put in newstuff. Your review is next week like mine.


    Yeah! I just saw my file in /newstuff now. I used FTP Explorer to see it. Can't wait to see what people think of it! :D

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    Hyena said:

    Oh, and tell me what you think of the format

    Nice! I was going to suggest the clear specification of what a map is for (single player, co-op, DM) in the last /newstuff cr. And like Grazza said, it would be a good idea to specify the number of maps in the wad too.

    About P:AR, all I can say is: A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! But... in some areas where there are a huge number of sectors I get a little annoyed because of my computer going slow.

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    Try lowering your resolution if it does that.

    (me covers his ears at shouts of "HERESY!")

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    Hyena said:

    Lazer: Read my opening text.

    Oops, my bad. I just fixed up the levels a ton and added a few weapons and map10. So I was excited. I doubt anymore Underworld beta will hit newstuff from now on cuz the main focus is finishing up the levels now.

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    The first time a dummy player start was used as far as my knowledge goes was in Plutonia MAP06 to give the player a shotgun when he crosses a line (and this was done without Boom's conveyors!). It's also used in TNT MAP30 (to kill the player if he touches the wrong platform) and probably in some other Final Doom maps which I don't remember.

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    Lazer said:

    Oops, my bad. I just fixed up the levels a ton and added a few weapons and map10. So I was excited. I doubt anymore Underworld beta will hit newstuff from now on cuz the main focus is finishing up the levels now.


    I can always mention it in the next newstuff, say what's been changed and link to the original review.

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    played around in underground base, but it's not as good as Alexmax's previous DM, Nukage plant.
    Can't wait til I release EpyoDM!

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    Ultimate DooMer said:

    I can always mention it in the next newstuff, say what's been changed and link to the original review.

    That original review was a review of beta 3 that some random person called beta 4 and uploaded. It's been almost a year since beta 3 was released, and although not TOO much has been changed, its still way more improved and actually playable (the last one was kinda screwed up and I think map09 was unbeatable)

    Oh, and one other thing, I believe beta 4 is the first wad released to spawn weapons from heretic that were converted into extra doom weapons. It also spawns some heretic monsters... although unchanged.

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    :( My riverge.wad did not make it to the newstuff chronicles of this week. So, Ultimate DooMer, would it be too much asked if you could e-mail me the review of riverge before the next newstuff chronicles. Maybe on friday or saturday, of cource I understand if you don't have time for it or for any other reason cannot do that. I would be really pleased if you did so though, because I'm going to army next monday and I'll see the review who-knows-when.

    Btw, if you're going to play the wad on legacy, please remember that there is a "bug" on map05 and you cannot take the red key without jumping.

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    DooMer 4ever said:

    :( My riverge.wad did not make it to the newstuff chronicles of this week. So, Ultimate DooMer, would it be too much asked if you could e-mail me the review of riverge before the next newstuff chronicles. Maybe on friday or saturday, of cource I understand if you don't have time for it or for any other reason cannot do that. I would be really pleased if you did so though, because I'm going to army next monday and I'll see the review who-knows-when.


    I tried to email it to you, but it gets rejected, so I've PMed it instead.

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