Welcome one, welcome all to this week's showbag of /newstuff goodness! OK, so I had to cover three weeks of /newstuff, but that doesn't matter since I enjoyed every single moment of it! Seriously! Even though I had to use two different computers to play all of the maps featured this week! Hooray for GZDoom! Hooray for excessive usage of exclamation marks!
A Monster Too Many - XXoXX
doom2.exe - SP - 40kb -
The title fits this map perfectly. It's a horrible HR-style map with amazingly predictable battles. I don't have a problem with large monster count maps at all, but this map is simply not worth downloading.
Beyond the Walls of the Night - Aluqah
ZDoom - SP - 337kb -
I gave Aluqah's maps scathing reviews back in #273 (which unsurprisingly, nobody objected to and decided to bitch about hti_2.wad instead), and it seems like the negativity paid off: Beyond the Walls is a lot more interesting than his previous maps, but I still believe there's more room for improvement within this mapper. I find the inclusion of that eye from Lord of the Rings as a texture quite amusing, and how health bonuses are replaced with a "lifesphe", which is a single frame of the Doomsphere ripped from Skulltag. The gameplay itself is not bad and the detail is an obvious improvement over his previous maps, but I don't really enjoy open "void" maps that much. Fortunately it's quite easy to avoid death by falling, but it can be bothersome at certain areas of the map.
Blzut3's Untitled Project 1 - Blzut3
Skulltag - SP - 166kb -
Although I typically do not enjoy reviewing unfinished WADs (but I'm sorta self-contradicting since I released do-tims, which is heavily rushed and somewhat unfinished), I found this three-level set to be a fun blast overall. From these levels, I'm presuming that Blzut3 was creating a remake of E3 (my favourite episode), so I feel obliged to compare the gameplay compared to the original.
The first level resembles E3M7, the second level heavily resembles E3M2, but I can't figure out what the third level is meant to resemble. It actually took me a while to discover the E3 resemblance, as I was about to quit early in the first level because I couldn't figure out how I was meant to access the bridge, but I decided to walk around a pillar and I was surprised to discover the teleport around the back of it. The second level is a definite ringer of E3 style, but the automap doesn't look like any particular shape, unlike the original E3M2. However, it does make use of the rock cliffs quite effectively, plus it adds a few random buildings among the mix. The third level is a bit disappointing for me though, as it's very cramped and generally a pain in the ass to maneuver in.
CAVES of DEAD - Stricke
"Enhanced Port" - DM - 1,642kb -
Note from deathz0r: AlexMax pestered me to do a guest review for this weeks edition of /newstuff for no particular reason, so I gave him this WAD since I didn't like the look of the accompaning text file. Within twenty minutes, he gave me a very elaborative review which I'm posting below this paragraph. Onto the review, yarr!
This is, from a gameplay point of view, a very pedestrian set of Free For All maps. They are all symmetrical, and though there is nothing inherently wrong with them, there's nothing that sets them apart from the dozens upon dozens of FFA mapsets being run on various servers. You could do much worse than these, but could also do a lot better. However, aside from some odd weapon placement on certain maps (Why is there a bumpable plasma in MAP02 when it's easier to simply grab the one in the middle?), they're passable.
In terms of graphics, however, these maps are a bit of an eyesore. Due to limitations of Doom's palette, tan textures do not really fade well at low light levels. Considering a good majority of the textures featured in the mapset are either tan or greyscale, the whole thing ends up very looking very washed out. The sprite work ranges from neat (flames) to amateurish (the flame stands, see MAP05 for details). A very mixed bag.
Now, this would be fine, if it were not for the technical gripes I had with this mapset. There is nothing in this mapset which requres anything better than a Boom compatible port, yet in ZDoom 1.22 there were some levels where I could walk through walls, and prBoom simply gave up completely when I tried to play a map. ZDaemon itself ran all maps without issue, but it's discouraging to see how little care the map makers put into the groundwork behind the scenes. Also, for what it's worth, MAP04 has a few lines with nonexistent textures, so if your source port complains about that, tough luck.
All in all, once you get over the fact that it uses an Egyptian texture set, there's nothing too spectacular about it. Personally, I'd give it a pass.
CleanWAD V1.54 - Martin Howe
N/A - N/A - 505kb
This nifty utility cleans out wasted bytes from WAD files. Unfortunately I had no test subjects to try it on, but this might be of interest to some people.
Dominus Hyacinthus De Archangelis - Bowen
ZDoom - SP - 394kb -
A HR-style map with a Hell theme. I'll give Bowen props for creating a fairly decent Hell-themed map, but it falls short on gameplay merits. I personally find chaingunners at high ledges rather annoying and pretty much reduces my chance of having fun. And on another note, it's possible to get stuck behind one of the torches at the very start, as shown in the second screenshot.
Jon skin - RottKing
Skulltag - N/A - 135kb -
Here is the Powerslave/Exhumed player skin, so that you can kick ass (or get your ass kicked) as the protagonist from this underrated Build engine game.
Legacy Fan - xbolt
Legacy - SP - 9kb -
As the name mostly describes, it's a demostration of a rotating 3D ceiling fan. Quite an interesting thing to add into those office/realism maps that people like to make.
NeoDoom - Daniel
JDoom/Legacy/ZDoom - SP - 39mb -
This is an interesting piece of work, to say the very least. Think Earthbound Doom with a decent set of levels which have no coherent recurring theme. What you get is one huge pile of mess, but the levels themselves deserve credit, as I found them quite enjoyable. They have a decent amount of detail overall and extremely challenging gameplay which will certainly keep you occupied for a while, but everything else about it is just fubar. Not only is there no constant theme throughout the WAD, but this has to have the most amount of material stolen from other games/WADs that I've ever seen in a finished PWAD. Duke Nukem 3D enemies, a rather large and curious variety of bosses and your typical array of weapons and monsters taken from the Weapon Resource WAD and Monster Resource WAD respectively. Does it end there? Hell no!
The last level contains a nude female sprite who greets you with a chuckle when you approach her, not to mention a crackwhore boss that you fight a few levels beforehand. Of course, there is no mention of nudity or other material that is only deemed suitable for the x-rated section in the text file, so it would eventually lead to another conservative Catholic-written article on why games are sexist/violent/promote homosexuality/anything else utterly stupid to debate against. Someone should notify Ty (since I'm too lazy to myself) about this hideous monstrosity!
What do I make of this overall? I don't honestly know, since I have done something similar with UAC Ressurection (sic), although that wasn't finished. I suggest you go make your own opinion about this WAD.
Nmn Corporation Texture Set Part 2 - Pawel Zarczynski
N/A - N/A - 1,245kb
An all original texture set? Well I'll be damned! Not only that, but it's a kickass set of textures that doesn't require any stupid permissions. They almost inspire me to make a DM wad using those textures...
Revisiting Phobos - Leonardo "BuzzBomber" Venturelli
doom2.exe - SP - 143kb -
This week's obligatory E1-themed map comes in the form of Revisiting Phobos, which is a rather large and non-linear (as typical with E1 maps like E1M6 and E1M7) map which is quite a blast to play through. It might be a bit confusing for some people as there are a few one-sided doors which hinder the speed of this map, but it is somewhat challenging overall and worth playing for one full run.
Sapphire - Orbital Research - Daniel "Tormentor667" Gimmer
GZDoom - SP - 7.5mb -
I'll say it here and I'll only say it once throughout my entire stint as a /newstuff reviewer: GZDoom is the ZDoom equivalant of Doomsday, minus support for models. It seems like most mappers that create maps specifically for GZDoom are more interested in maintaining aesthetics rather than gameplay. And for that reason, it strengthens the divide in this fair community between people who have no taste of gameplay and those who do have taste of gameplay.
I will shamelessly admit that Sapphire looks beautiful (as do most maps by Tormentor), but the gameplay is utterly dull. And for those people who whined about me not making constructive criticism towards hti_2.wad, I'll make this clear to all of you: This map needs open areas and less hallways, this map needs height variation, and this map needs to focus less on unneccessary reflective mirrors on floors.
Or to translate it into plain english which more people will understand, this map sucks and only serves as an "hey look at me, I can make pretty things!" entity. The textures used in this however kick ass, and it's a shame that they were only used for one map, especially one with an inferior level of gameplay.
SPACESHIP 1024 - Paul Corfiatis
doom2.exe - SP - 58kb -
We have yet another 1024 map, but I don't know if this was submitted for the new 1024 megawad. I can't say that I've been paying attention to it as of late. Regardless, this map is rather straight forward and linear, which is somewhat typical of 1024 maps. The detail level is quite acceptable and the theme does resemble a spaceship. It is mostly a walk in the park as far as difficulty goes, and I finished this in my first try with a lot of ammo to spare.
The Good Guys - Martin Howe (a.k.a. The Crazy Cat)
Enhanced Port - N/A - 295kb -
When will people stop making all of these stupid "realism" weapon mods for Doom? And to make things worse, this WAD has a horrible clash of art styles and weapon alignments, flash animations that aren't even properly aligned to the guns themselves (see first screenshot, might not be easy to notice though), and even a rocket launcher that somehow shoots from an invisible barrel to its left side!
Thief - The Trail of the Arch-Heretic - Nigel Rowand (Enjay)
GZDoom - SP - 5.3mb -
While my statement about GZDoom maps in the review of Sapphire still stands, this is an exception to the rule. Those who have played the original njthief.wad will be familar with this map, but it has been enhanced with GZDoom's features, particularly the usage of 3D floors to add monsters at unreachable areas and dynamic lights to enhance the atmosphere. That said, I found this enjoyable overall, but I was not happy with the complete lack of health at the start, and it took me a few tries to get past the area with the first Weredragons. Did I forget to mention that this is a Heretic map? Silly me!
The most innovative idea in this WAD is the loot feature. Depending on how much gold you obtain by the end of the level, you will be given a rank ranging from Petty Thief to Garrett. Another interesting addition is the Flare Orb, which illuminates an area making it easier for you to see, although the AI isn't intelligent enough to recognize it. Since it is a limitation of the Doom engine, I'll let that slide and just slap this with the coveted WAD of the Week award.
Ultramodern Combat 1 - DeumReaper
ZDaemon - DM - 107kb -
Although the text file states it's an office themed map, I see absolutely no resemblance to any kind of office that I currently know of. Not only that, but the layout is absolutely horrible. I won't go on about the detail or use of texturing, but I cannot fathom how someone could enjoy playing this map. Since it states it was made for ZDaemon, it does kind of make sense in a way, but DeumReaper seriously needs to read Wasted Youth's excellent tutorial or even <shamelessplug>mine and Rellik's advice on how to make decent DM maps</shamelessplug> before he decides to release another map.
Unit 9042 - Part II "The Alliance" - Zalewa
ZDoom - SP - 5.3mb -
If it wasn't for njhthief.wad, this would have received WAD of the Week. A continuation of termin1.wad also by Zalewa, this places the player in control of a Terminator machine which is reprogrammed to assist the human side, just like Terminator II itself (surprise surprise). The massive level pits the player against other Terminators, animals and other assorted enemies that the player must rip and tear through, but it also provides a storyline along the way that enhances the atmosphere of this WAD. However, the scripts are poorly executed, with a lot of bugs which can be exploited in order to save time. The detail also reeks of a copy+paste job, but given the theme of the WAD and how closely it follows said theme, it can be understood. A recommended pick.
Wasted Temple - Vasek "Damned" Havrane
ZDoom - SP - 127kb -
We end this edition of /newstuff with a level that feels quite standard in design and appears to be better placed in a megawad, as it feels a lot like a megawad filler map. That said it isn't bad at all, but don't expect anything overly interesting.