Well, it's a pretty heavy newstuff this week - with 44 maps in all, with a near-equal mix of old and new school (using a wide variety of ports). Also, we have a first here on newstuff - two wads with the same name! Anyway, before you get started, here's a picture of a gnu:
- Silent Steel by Bryant Robinson
3220kb - Vavoom - SP -
A wad that didn't get reviewed last week due to technical problems (the choice of port seems to attract them). A 7-map wad with all new textures, weapon graphics and a few of those cool 3D models that Vavoom does nicely. Basically it's Dark 7 in Vavoom, only not quite as good. The maps themselves contain some impressive 3D structures and other Vavoom-based architecture (together with some good outdoor areas), and it's not that detailed - but in this case it's right, as that's what rusty techbases are meant to look like. All of the maps have the same theme, so it gets repetitive to look at after a while (although this creates that dark future atmosphere that came with Quake 2). Gameplay is fairly good (better than Dark 7), but like Braham Manor it's seriously affected by Vavoom's awful handling - which actually makes it harder. Ammo is plentiful early on, but gets rarer as you go through it, and in the later maps you'll find yourself firing up the chainsaw and seeing red quite a lot. Health is fairly scarce too, so watch out for that. Also, watch out for corrupt savegame crashes at the end of maps 05 and 06 (it just wouldn't be a true-3D port without them) and a visplane-style crash in map 06's slowdown area. It's an impressively built (and fun) mapset, but one that will depend on your own preferences (and those of your PC) as to whether you like it or not.
- Somewhat Evil by Ninja of Doom
372kb - Legacy - SP -
Another wad that didn't get reviewed last week due to technical problems (hang on, isn't it me that normally gets those?), this is a big brick map that actually feels quite similar to other Legacy maps of recent times. The author certainly knows his tricks, as there's clever use of 3D floors throughout - from standard bridges to railings, cages and even a spiral staircase. Together with the architecture and the red sky it makes an impressive looking wad. Gameplay is fairly solid, although it can drag at times due to the large number of SSG'ed barons. Some sneaky traps are thrown in, and there's always enough ammo and health on hand. The music's pretty good, too (a dark classical piece that adds to the atmosphere). All in all, pretty good.
- Vanilla compatible light effects by Lee Syzmanski
11kb - doom2.exe - n/a -
A demo wad showcasing the various ways of getting different light levels in the floor/ceiling of the same sector. Worth knowing about, especially when the first method shown is easy to do.
- Mind's I by Shaun Huckabay
206kb - ZDoom - SP -
A somewhat bizarre ZDoom map. Set in a ship gone wrong, you escape and proceed on a short journey through various strange places. Plenty of ZDoom features including slopes, coloured fog (heh) and scripting. This could've been a great wad if the quality was good, but unfortunately there's nothing much good in the detail or the layout whatsoever (that doesn't come from the ZDoom stuff). There is some atmosphere, enhanced by the scary tune but sadly the map doesn't take advantage of it. The gameplay is on the small-scale side together with the ammo/health balance (apart from the battle at the end), but never tough. It's certainly weird, and a bit different to what we normally get, but on the whole not too good.
- Phobos Outpost by DoomBoy
66kb - doom.exe - SP -
Entering the old school now, we have another contribution to what seems to be the most popular type of Doom map. The E1M6-runner looks good, with some nice lighting effects and plenty of height changes to enhance architecture, and of course is authentic too. As expected, the gameplay is easy (fast monsters recommended), but at least there isn't a ton of ammo lying around this time. The nostalgia hunters will lap it up, but I don't know about the rest of you.
- Phobos Outpost by Ralph Wueltener
440kb - doom.exe - SP -
Another tribute wad in the same style, this time a full episode (with added E2M9 bonus map). But this one has more to offer, particularly on the fun side. While the architecture is fairly basic (in a traditional Phobos way) and is riddled with texture misalignments, it does retain the feel and there are many individual tributes scattered throughout (and also a memorable feature in E1M9). But the gameplay is where it excels - although I can't tell you about normal play, as I did it with fast monsters (and I encourage all skilled Doomers to do the same). The author resists the usual temptation to throw a shotgun down in the first room, so you're with a pistol for the best part of two maps (=good). After then it's business as normal, but the high monster counts together with the layouts make it really fast and furious, with plenty of fast creeping around and adrenaline charges to be had. There are also a lot of traps with many monsters in (including a memorable E1M6-style one), guaranteed to have you on the edge at all times. In fact the only flaw in the gameplay is usual excessive amounts of ammo (when will people learn when balancing the ammo, that half the enemies in pure Phobos drop their own?) but even this has the effect of increasing the flow (by not having much weapon switching). If you're skilled enough to play with -fast, plug in your favourite fast-paced dance/metal albums, sit back and enjoy. If not, it should still be worth playing.
- Base of Evil by Ralph Wueltener
374kb - doom.exe - SP -
And here's part 2. This time an Inferno-type thingy with a little bit of Deimos thrown in (and perhaps a touch of TFC, too). Again, there's authentic architecture and tributes all over the place, but this time there's a new sky which definitely adds to the Inferno feel. Gameplay is tough again (fast monsters) but it's tougher than the above wad, and you'll get more than a few sticky situations to get stuck into. There's too much ammo again, although not as bad as in the above wad (in fact you might run out of one or two types at some point). I'm beginning to tire a little of tribute wads (mainly because of their number), but when something good like this comes along I'm all for it. Both these episodes are certainly up there with Flashback in terms of being top-drawer wads for nostalgia hunters and challenge seekers alike. Wads of the week.
- Lunar Apocalypse by Jimi
162kb - source port - SP -
A small Doom 1 map set on a space station with a distinct rectangular shape, where you have to work your way round it 'till you get back to the start (perhaps a little odd there, but anyway). Detail is pretty good, with every room and passage containing some sort of architecture to stop it looking plain and boring. Gameplay can be quite tough, as there's plenty of monsters around with plenty of bigger ones in, but the last area is perhaps over the top (mainly as you get trapped in the last room full of monsters with your back right to the wall - definitely turn off fast monsters there if you have it on). A little bit different then, and a good map, but it's too short IMO.
- DoomKiller 07 by Max Augustus (BlackFish)
107kb - Skulltag - SP -
Heading back to the new school now, we get a castle siege map (running on DK07) that is a preview of an upcoming megawad. Basically it involves a number of challenges killing different monsters with different weapons (although once you get outside there's nothing to stop you grabbing all the weapons at once). Each stage gets harder (except in two cases, including the starter) and many of the Skulltag monsters are involved. It is quite fun, although watch out for the snipers. The map itself looks good, too. Not bad.
- Onslaught DM by Hobomaster22 and GodCells
1230kb - Boom port - DM -
A 12-map deathmatch wad intended for ZDaemon. It's a combination of Quake 1-style castles/temples and bases with a couple of other types thrown in. Detail is pretty good and, aided by the new graphics, creates a series of varied and nice looking maps. Gameplay-wise, the maps are small and have a fair selection of weapons down, along with some (but not that much) ammo, health and armour (but no powerups). This should make for some fairly fast battles, with some split-second or random decisions on weapon choices happening. Overall, pretty good.