Well, we have an exciting line-up for you this week at the home of mapping called newstuff. A huge variety of stuff, including single player, deathmatch, a cross between both, capture the flag, demo maps, skins, Heretic and some of the best wads you'll see this year! There's also a very impressive showcase by a talented new-to-newstuff mapper, and 57 maps to boot. In short, the best newstuff for a long time - set aside plenty of time and enjoy this lot:
- LavaArenaRemix by Bloodskull
373kb - Skulltag - DM -
A brick map set next to a load of lava falls. Detail is good, and some ZDoom features are used to enhance it. The layout is pretty DM-friendly, with no dead ends and easy access to all places. There's also a few teleporters to throw in some confusion to the opposition. Weapons are limited to everything except rockets and bfg, so expect a fearless fast-paced contest (encouraged by the speed metal tune playing in the background). Pretty good then.
- Black Void CTF by Mephisto
295kb - Skulltag - DM -
Unsurprisingly, a CTF map set in a black void. It all looks weird as you'd expect, with the tech textures giving that space-like atmosphere. Unfortunately the areas are linked with teleporters, which kinda spoils the feel IMO (it would've been better if the platforms were all in the same area). There's only a small number of weapons and one rune, too. Could've been better.
- Waste Site by Pawel Zarczynski (NMN)
322kb - source port - SP -
A big remote techbase in the middle of a rocky place. Detail is excellent (both indoor and out) although there is a sense of deja-vu in the small passages (but then what else can you do in a map this big?). Gameplay is also excellent, but only if you're a keen berserker - you'll need it to deal with the countless hell knights within (and there isn't enough ammo to do it without). If not, you'll need to be a keen evader. Provided you do plenty of either action, the ammo balance is pretty good, and the weapons come gradually which makes things more interesting in the first half of the map. And your punching/evading habits won't go away, even when you get the ssg and rocket launcher. Health is a problem though, due to the risks of punching/evading together with the shotgunners in the base and the sneaky nature of some traps. But this is definitely one of the best single maps this year, but incredibly is beaten into fourth place due to the quality of this week's wads. So it gets an extra screenie instead.
- Tunnel by PumpkinSmasher
61kb - Legacy - SP -
A silly wad for Legacy (so it can use a cfg file that screws up the settings), comprising of a tunnel with a ton of monsters and a head. The brick textures aren't as bad as the rest of the wad though.
- New World by Daniel
1880kb - ZDoom/Legacy - SP -
Now this is something we haven't seen before, at least not of this magnitude. 7 maps long and using a custom texture set and a source port with jumping, this is an amazing outdoor wad with strong sense of location. The grey sky really creates a grim, cold outdoor feel (which will be improved if you play it with the windows open on a cold evening) as do the general theme of the textures. Various locations appear, including a church, castle, tower and city. There's also a mountain pass level with a definite touch of Unreal about it. The detail is pretty intricate indoors, with all the furniture present, and outdoors you get caves, broken rocks and rivers. Some neat secrets take advantage of the jumping, too. Gameplay-wise it's really good, too. From the early stages where you'll be taking on hordes of imps and demons with saws and small arms, to the later stages involving revenants and large monsters aplenty. There's also some neat set-pieces, including a tower-top battle, numerous chainsaw-fests and an almost HR-type finale. Ammo is pretty balanced, although a lot of sawing is required and you will end up with too much later on. Health seems on and off, with a shortage during the early maps (only to find big stashes at the end) and a mixed balance later on. But ignore the flaws, as this is a new, different adventure and is not to be missed by anyone! Wad of the week, and one of the year so far.
- Zdoom as Markmenu Shell by Mark Bowman
79kb - ZDoom 1.* - n/a -
It's that frontend thingy again. And this time it's got a wad in it, that requires an ancient version of ZDoom.
- Metro1 by Carlos Guariglia
263kb - CDoom - SP -
Another demo map showing off the features of the new CDoom port (if you don't know about it already, it's Boom with 3D floors and jumping) . Basically it's a Brazilian city with a rail system and a few buildings outside. It's a very impressive feat of engineering, as the whole thing is on at least two floors. However it looks awful - but then so would anything else in a 320x200-only dos port.
- Hell Keep by hobomaster22
282kb - ZDoom - SP -
An interesting wood/metal gothic map. A dark atmosphere presides throughout, inspired by low lighting, a red sky and many ZDoom features. They are used well throughout, both in visual and gameplay. A fair spread of monsters are used, many to good effect and the map flows nicely as a result. Ammo and health are balanced nicely, but watch the health though. Pretty good map, really.
- Her Belisha Beacon Erased Till Forwards by Pablo Diccter
242kb - doom.exe - SP -
One of those E4M1 bases from the usual source that we haven't had anything from for ages. Plenty of detail in every corner, but like the other maps in the series it's a bit too linear. Gameplay has the main feature of hardly any health (until later on) and the amount of shotgunners and the way the traps grab you doesn't bode well. Still, it is a Doom 1 map, therefore hard to get a challenge out of without fast monsters. But it's still a good example of how to detail confined techbases, and of course the nostalgia people will like it.
- Bullies by Snakebite (Sabbath)
30kb - heretic.exe - SP -
A Heretic map. One that looks quite n00bish in design terms (ie. a lot of those basic castle rooms/passages) but plays better than it looks. All monsters except D'Sparil get at least one showing, and there isn't much in the way of powerups to help. There appears to be too much ammo, but this is actually deceptive. Overall nothing special, but worth it if you're a Heretic fan. If not, there's a Doom 2 version but this is nowhere near as good as the Heretic one.
- Daniel Level Serie 02 by Daniel
1040kb - ZDoom/Legacy - SP/DM -
Now here's a new one. Apparently it's a deathmatch megawad, and this is reflected in the layout (no keys, all weapons and plenty of ammo, health and powerups, free-flowing layout) but each map is crammed with monsters in such a way that it presents a very good workout for pistol starters and demorunners alike. Each map has it's own battle, always difficult (some of them are very hard indeed) and always played at 100mph due to it's nature (ie. a mad dash to the weapons and the powerups then a mad dash around the battleground to kill everything). The maps themselves vary in theme and detail is usually low to average, but never above vanilla levels (even though a jumping source port is needed). But you won't have time to study it, as you'll be too busy charging about the place to stay one step ahead of death. If you're a skilled enough player you'll have a lot of fun with this (but make sure you pistol-start each map), and if you're a demorunner you'll have fun recording it too! A new outlook on single player action (30 bite-size battles in a deathmatch environment) and one that is too good to pass up on.
- Final Fray by r.e. lubbelinkhof
88kb - doom2.exe - SP -
An icon of sin map. Only this time you get just 20 rockets, 1 megasphere, twice the monsters and you're firing from a lot further away. Do it quickly, before it's too late. The map looks good, btw. (and probably better than your average IoS, the only flaw is that F9 is your friend)
- ZDaemon CTF by AlexMax, Exl, Nestea, EarthQuake, SirTimberWolf and Snowbro
1660kb - ZDaemon - DM -
A compilation of CTF maps by a compilation of CTF mappers. Maps 11-20 in all, and with a variety of themes - including Quake, stone, Phobos, brick and a couple of weirder themes like a floating city and destruction bowl. Detail is pretty good throughout and impressive in some maps, with various Boom and ZDoom features (including a friend of mine, the spring). In fact, there are quite a few neat concepts in the maps, here. Weapons vary, but no BFG and there's usually some health around too. In short, an interesting and pretty good collection of maps that should provide some good CTF action.
- 125 Skins by Daniel
8100kb - ZDoom/Legacy - SP -
Put simply, a ton of skins for your favourite antique source port (in this case, ZDoom 1.22- and Legacy 1.28-). Designed for use with bots, so you can battle all kinds of famous figures. Worth grabbing if you like that sort of thing.
- Neo Doom by Daniel
3310kb - ZDoom/Legacy - SP -
Man, this guy is good. First outdoors, then classic-style and now a city. This one has awesome graphics - they're easily the best city textures since Batman Doom and together with the grey sky, create a grim urban atmosphere (perhaps spoiled a little by the bright open nature of the city). There's not that much detail inside the buildings, but again the textures do all the work like they do outside. There's a ton of new gameplay stuff added, too - new weapons, all of which have some power-happy upgrades (one of which is so cool it has to be seen to be believed) and new sprites, a few toughened enemies that really pose a threat and an almighty boss that also has to be seen to be believed. Sadly, there is an awful start to the challenge here - there are far too many zombies on the ground to start with, many of them wake up at once and there's no health, except for some that is dropped by enemies (not to mention that the pistol is more difficult to aim due to the left-sided sprite). Despite the large open nature of the city, there's nowhere to run and consequently you'll get very annoyed, particularly when you save right before one snipes you in the back (when will people learn that you can't dodge hitscan attacks?). Once you get some decent weapons and some health under you, things look up. And keep looking up the more you go through it. You'll have some great fun with the new weapons and battling some rather difficult enemies, although the boss is surprisingly easy to kill (possibly down to the excessive ammo which is built up gradually). But despite the early setback, this is a top wad not to be missed, and he even promises there's more to come! I can't wait...