A whopping 5 wads are on up the table this week for the latest edition of The /newstuff Chronicles. As an added bonus, there is a lack of any new weapon mods and a mapset by a relative newbie that will make you want to jump into a boiling lake of lava. But don't let that cool you off, as there are several good wads that should be checked out.
Achluophobia.wad - Th0r
Skulltag - Solo Play - 3082 kb -
Achuluphobia is the latest mapset in a series of simple wads by Th0r. Now, according to the txt file, the author is still relatively new at mapping so I can't be too hard on him for that. However, this mapset suffers from poor texturing and almost a complete lack of height variations throughout. There are often times many unaligned textures and combinations that just don't make sense. If you really enjoy Doom at its uttermost simplistic, as in, many boring corridors and switch hunting, then this wad is for you. There's too many identical hallways that connect into other identical hallways that lead up to a single switch, which then forces you to backtrack through the same hallways to get to an area so you can have your face ripped off by a hell knight and start all over again. Aesthetic qualities aside, the maps play like most beginner maps: lots of cramped corridors and too many enemies. If you aren't getting pegged by a chaingunner off in the distance, then you're running into the many ill-placed lamps and firesticks. This is not fun.
However, on the plus side the maps do get better with each passing level. The last map shows promise but then quickly turns into a simplistic HR-styled blast fest. Plenty of new art abounds, and while some of it adds to the themes throughout, some just look plain goofy in their selection. There is also new music which for the most part is pretty good, although that's an area of personal taste. I do think that Th0r is certainly capable of better, and just like any mapper whose had his time in the limelight, it just takes time and practice. Also, why this was specifically for Skulltag, I don't know.
Amnesia - Aluqah
ZDoom - Solo Play - 176 kb -
All right, this level is just weird. But not in that mysterious sort of way, but rather, in the way that makes you scratch your head and wonder exactly what the hell this author was trying to build. There are many textures from various resources being used here, but they are all thrown about in very little consistency. I have no idea what kind of theme this is supposed to be, nor do I have any clue what the map is supposed to resemble. There are plenty of height variations which give the map an interesting perspective, but it comes off feeling like some sort of weird Doom 2 prototype level. As far as the gameplay goes, there are a couple nifty ZDoom features that break up the gameplay from being mundane. I found this wad to be difficult and frustrating as there's not really any clear path where the player is supposed to go.
Dwarf Town - Pawel Zarczynski
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 244 kb -
This was a map that was left out of the 1024x1024 project, aptly named Dwarf Town. And I should say that while I'm not a big fan of 1024 styled maps, I really enjoyed playing this wad. The map takes place in a cramped little town full of great little details here and there and excellent use of lighting. The gameplay is what you'd expect from a 1024 map, but not all that frustrating. There were a couple of moments where I muttered "son of a bitch!", but I did survive on the first playthrough. Best of all, the map is Boom compatible so it can be played on your favorite source port. Recommended.
jet01 - Jetflock
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 155 kb -
Yet another 1024 project submission that was yanked out. This map attempts to recreate the original Map01 of Doom 2 and does a pretty good job of it. Instead of just taking the original design of Map01 and trying to "redo" it, the author has built the entire map from the ground up and it really shows in the layout. A refreshing change from the usual redesigns of the past. There are a lot of interesting takes on the texturing and design with most of the battles being pretty fun, too. Its a short but sweet level, definitely worth your 2 minutes of play time. Like Dwarf Town, this map is also boom compatible. Recommended.
SJS1: Streets Of Fear - Simon 'SlayeR' Judd
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 270 kb -
The last wad of the week is certainly a good one, and a definite contender for wad of the week. As you may tell from the title of this wad, this map takes place in a little haunted town. The level certainly isn't a walk in the park either, as I found myself dying quite a few times to finally beat this map. There's plenty of hidden alcoves where enemies will suprise you, but it never comes off as cheap. There's good detail throughout and the usage of new textures adds to the atmosphere of the level. In the txt file, SlayeR states that this map was originally an expansion for Bloodrust and the style shows. There's also the inclusion of a MIDI also composed by the author. All in all, a nice single player experience and I hope the author releases more in this series. Recommended.