Welcome to the latest edition of /newstuff. I, Dittohead, will be your guide through the gold and muck from the week that was. This week we have a broad selection of maps in varying lengths and quality; in addition to a few pleasant suprises. There's also been a megawad released that is sure to become a contender for next year's Mordeth award. So without any further hesitation, let's get to the wads!
Doom Noir - Jon Dowland
doom.exe - n/a - 16 kb
This is a simple palette replacement that simulates the film style in the motion picture "Sin City". There's nothing flashy about this at all, as with most palette changes. However it may be useful in mods. Fun for a few minutes until you realize that Doom is a game better played with all colors.
Total Darkness 4 - evilhomerdoomer
Skulltag - Solo Play - 591 KB -
In the text file, the author states that the aim of the wad is create an atmospheric, linear map that somehow won't get boring. Well, 2 out of 3 isn't bad. The map flows from a tech style into a hell style, and then back into a tech style once more. The map has a lot of detail in it for being a linear map; however, all the detail in the world cannot save the map from relatively boring gameplay. The problems start arising when you are forced to tyson a baron, and then later on, an archvile. I don't know if my playing ability just isn't what it used to be, but the ammo is scarce and makes the map unnecessarily difficult. The monsters are not arranged in a way that makes the gameplay difficult; its only real difficulty and ultimately frustration comes from the ammo placement. I recall one situation where I was out of ammo, but there was a box of shotgun shells in reach. However, a baron of hell was standing right on top of them. The map does redeem itself a little by offering a healthy supply of new enemies and ZDoom/Skulltag effects. Not a bad attempt, but when you set out to build a linear map, this is what you get.
Total Darkness 5 - evilhomerdoomer
Skulltag - Solo Play - 204 KB -
A natural successor to Total Darkness 4, TD5 keeps with the same style of detail and difficulty only in a slightly less linear fashion. The map has some good looking rooms that feel slightly modular and symmetrical in design. However, there are moments when the gameplay becomes tedious. In one instance you have to kill all the monsters in a particular room before it releases an archvile, long after you've depleted most of your ammo. The overall style of the map is a mish-mash of tech and hell themes which have no logical flow from one to the other. If you enjoyed playing TD4, then TD5 is right up your alley. However, if TD4 did not impress you, then there is simply nothing really new to see here.
Impsicity - Tarcanos
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 67 KB
The author explains in the txt file that this is his first foray into Doom editing. And as such you might expect the map to be a bit rough around the edges. However, I was unable to get the map to even load up in Zdoom (63a). If you can find a way to play this map then I hope it pays off, because I didn't try.
How Not To Be Seen! - Wills
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 24 KB
Possibly the best joke wad, if it can be classified as a joke wad, that I've ever had the joy of watching. There is no gameplay as the map is a 1:59 comedy routine. Very few attempts at Doom-related humor end up being funny, but this one gets it right in a way that isn't completely overdone or just plain stupid. If you are a fan of Monty Python humor then you will really enjoy this treat. There moments where I think I actually laughed out loud. Easily worth the price of admission and even if you aren't a fan of joke wads (I'm not in the least) you should still check this out. I hope the author creates more of these.
PstLevM - PichuSofT 99 (c)
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - -
PstLevM is actually short for, uh, who knows. However, the map is entertaining none the less. The layout of the level is akin to that of a medievil castle only spread out over a larger area. The gameplay itself tends to be evenly paced with a little bit of back-tracking. The only hiccups in the gameplay department arrive at the expense of the many flaming barrels placed around the map, which can make it treacherous to move about. The architecture of the map is medium and modest in its overall capacity but is used well enough. There is a good amount of height changes, and the theme of the level never really seems to sway from that of its castle-like appearance. The wad also utilizes some new dehacked tricks and a few new sounds that don't do much to enhance the gameplay at all. If you spooge over the thought of tightly detailed rooms, then this map is not for you. However, for the rest of us, this map provides some good fun for a 15 minute play-through. Recommended.
Canary Squadron (v1.4) - Chris Bourke
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 265 KB -
Map01 gets this series of 6 maps off to a rough start. At first I was convinced that playing all 6 of these maps would become a chore simply by judging how linear and boring the first map was. However, my suspicions were quickly dismissed as soon as map02 loaded up. The maps progressively become better and better, and have a lovely Doom 2 flavored old-school vibe to them that I have learned to appreciate. The maps themselves are a mix between tech and the aforementioned "Doom 2" style and the gameplay can get extreme at times but is backed up by a good amount of health and ammo. There were only a few errors I spotted in some of the levels, the most notable being a few missing textures in map06. However, these are not enough to detract from a good set of maps. There are some genuinely good ideas in these maps that shouldn't be overlooked. If you can forgive the first map of this series, I recommend it. Hope to see more from this author in the future as I feel he's off to a good start.
budrum26 - Michael "Optimus" Kargas
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 246 KB -
Another map by a Doom editing newcomer, but this one isn't half bad and actually plays on the specified port! Now, with that out of the way, the author states in the txt file that he has gone to lengths to make a good impression on the lighting and shading. And instead of an empty promise, the author actually makes good on his word. There are some very nicely lit areas that, for a newbie, are truly amazing. While the geometry in the map is low, it makes up for it with the impressive shading detail. The gameplay is also difficult but can provide a nice challenge to those who are willing to play the map a few times through trial and error. However, the map has no consistent theme and seems to have an identity crisis. Regardless, this is a nice first attempt and if the author can hone in and expand on a particular style, we'll have another good mapper on our hands.
The Stranger - WildWeasel
GZDoom - n/a - 7042 KB
I'm not much for weapon addon packs, but I found The Stranger to be an enjoyable distraction from the grind of doing these damn /newstuff reviews. If playing a 12-year old game doesn't make you feel nerdy enough, the author has dug deep to bring us weapons inspired from his favorite anime films. The animations are incredibly smooth, complete with shell eject casings and appropriate sound effects. I don't watch anime so I wasn't able to tell which movie the guns were from, but at any rate, they were implemented well. Even if you don't particularily like weapon mods, you still might want to check this out just for giggles and the satisfaction of knowing that somebody else out there is still a little nerdier than you.
UnlimitedStar23's Skulltag Deathmatch Party - -=>UnlimitedStar23<=-
Skulltag - Deathmatch - 770 KB -
A group of 16 deathmatch maps fine tuned for Skulltag. To be frank, I don't play DM at all so I might not be the best critic when it comes to judging DM map packs. However, I did play through most of the maps in SP just to check out the layouts and architecture. From what I can tell, the maps don't have any particular "flow" to them which I would imagine would be an important element to any DM map. There's also some funny texture choices here and there and detail is at a minimum. But again, I don't play DM so I don't know what to look for. If you're tired of the stock Skulltag maps then you might want to check this out. But if you're looking to get into playing Skulltag DM, then this is probably not a good starting point.
Newdoom Community Project - various Doom Community members
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 7192 KB -
Many said it would never be completed, but alas, the NDCP has arrived. But don't let the name fool you; there are mappers from every corner of the Doom community that participated in this project. As with any community project, there are a wide variety of themes in varying quality. And as such there is very little consistency between each level. However, there are some really great maps spread throughout the entire megawad with only a small handful of bad ones. At any rate, the gameplay seems to be pretty balanced in most levels and as such rarely suffers. There is also a handful of new textures but sadly no music replacement. As a whole, the NDCP delivers on the same level that you would to expect from the Community Chest series and does not disappoint. If you already haven't downloaded this, I highly recommend it - if even just for maps 01, 11, 12, 32, 09, 14 *cough* 03, and so forth. Even some of the less detailed maps like map28 have a great feel to them that remind me of the first time I played the later levels in Ultimate Doom. Recommended.
deathz0r Online: The Internet Made Stupid - Dean "deathz0r" Joseph
ZDoom Compatible - SP/DM - 4044 KB -
Another joke wad, but an extravagant one at that. To be honest, I didn't catch a lot of the humor but maybe deathz0r can explain it all to me a little better. I did detect a high amount of mockery towards Skulltag and the nature of online gaming in general. Even though the new artwork is sloppy (on purpose) and the levels are pointless, there was obviously a lot of work that went into making this. There were a few moments, especially in the single player mode that were kind of funny, but the rest just seemed to fall flat with me. The wad itself just seems to be a big "inside joke" that I don't think the average Doomer will get. Joke wads are not my thing so I won't waste any more time reviewing this.
Alinealus - ElRodo (Rodrigo Acevedo)
ZDoom Compatible - Deathmatch - 2370 KB -
For its download size you would expect Alinealus to be quite a bit bigger DM map. However, upon loading the map its easy to see why. This DM map is chock full of detail which can best be described as ridiculous. In a way it kind of reminds me of gothic99 without the cramped corridors. The map seemed to run fast enough on my machine in GL mode so I suspect it might be a fun map to play with some friends online. The rooms seem to be connected fairly well and there is a little flow to them. Definetly not a stinker by any means, but since I'm not a deathmatch player its hard for me to find a genuine appreciation for the map. If you're into DM you might want to check this one out.
Aztec Temple - Hans de Heus
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 137 KB -
A medium sized temple map with an emphasis on switch hunting. This appears to be one of the first maps that this author has made; and if so, he's off to a good start. The map isn't very detailed and there isn't a whole lot of height adjustments or attention to connectivity. Regardless, the gameplay seems to be balanced just right and rarely gets frustrating unless you're looking for a switch for more than 2 minutes. Despite what the title of this map might tell you, there isn't a lot of "aztec" inspiration as it just looks like a standard demonic temple with green marble all over the place. Overall a good attempt for a newcomer and we'll see what he does in the future.
Jägermörder 02 Terra Nova - Derek MacDonald aka Afterglow
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 886 KB
This is just an update which cleans up the map a bit and establishes compatability with PrBoom plus. If you didn't play this the first time it was featured in /newstuff, I highly recommend it.
ic2005 - Ian Cunnings
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 1521 KB -
Possibly one of the best maps of the week. Following in the tradition of other large tech maps such as the vrack series, ic2005 is full of tech flavored goodness. The amount of detail is just right and never seems to pollute the map or get in the way of gameplay. In addition, the map seems to have just the right amount of connectivity and detail all while maintaining the theme. The difficulty seems to be centered in the sweet spot as there are more than a few tight battles with ample ammo and health nearby to barely turn the tables in your favor. There is an abundance of new textures, and it also features a MIDI rendition of a Quake 2 tune which seemed to fall right into place with the tech/base style of the map. Recommended!