AlexMax here, and unfortunately, I write this /newstuff with a heavy heart. I'm sure you're all aware why, so I'll go ahead and dedicate this /newstuff to Dylan 'Toke' McIntosh. You will be missed, fellow Doomer, fellow mapper, and friend. You will be missed.
Now, before I begin reviewing, I am going to abuse my soapbox to make a plea to people submitting levels. Can you please not leave us reviewers and players in the dark about what ports they will run on? The text file included with Babel, for example stated that he had tested the map with ZDoom, but had no idea if it ran on any other port or not. Is it really that hard to figure out what source ports your map will run on? Test first, then give us a definitive answer. Thank you.
Babel - Jacob H. Orloff
ZDoom - Solo Play - 145 KB -
This map is a one-off in a token brown rooms and corridors, fairly standard as far as Doom 2 goes. This author sure loves his Hell Knights and Barons, and you'll find swarms of them, in sometimes borderline unfair quantities, throughout the map. This wouldn't be so bad, except the fact that this map is very tight, and you are not given a whole lot of leeway, either in movemnt, or in ammo and health. It was frustrating, but I chalk it up to me sucking at single player, and if you're really stumped by the difficulty, you can simply load the map in Eternity or prBoom and your journey through the map will be substantially easier. Texturing choices are decent, for what the author was trying to accomplish, but considering the author's editor of choice, I did see a fair bit more texture misalignment than I wanted to see, especially on light sources and stairways. One minor gripe I had with the map from a construction standpoint is that although this map broke on non-ZDoom ports, I didn't see any particular reason why, as the map was very plain looking from an SFX standpoint and hardly made use of ZDoom features at all. Overall, nothing spectacular, but it's not a bad map at all, and I recommend it if you have a half hour to kill.
Dynamite Deathmatch - RottKing
Skulltag - Deathmatch - 2956 KB -
This is one seriously slick set of FFA maps. Most FFA maps that you see, even today, tend to either be overly linear or overly symmetrical. Rottking, however, seems to be able to come up with really awesome FFA layouts seemingly from nowhere, twisting and turning and flowing into each other perfectly. I never once felt like I was running into a dead end or that he was running out of ideas. The maps range from Egyptian temples to sprawling tech bases, but the real standout map for me was the Villa, which consists of a elegant house with an awesome brightly lit outside that looks fantastic and uses Doom's limited palette to the fullest. All of this fantastic-looking detail, and not ONCE did I feel like it was obstructing my path or blocking me or that I was getting hung up on it. Weapons are well placed for the most part, and while the SSG starts are kind of cliché, considering that Skulltags SSG is gimped to hell I'm willing to forgive it. Don't play this mapset without music either, as it uses a great selection of catchy tunes from various movies and video games. Highly recommended, and my pick for WAD of the week.
R.I.P Toke - Julian "_Jaws_" Williams
ZDaemon - Deathmatch - 712 KB -
This is a tribute from _Jaws_ to the late great mapper Dylan 'Toke' McIntosh. Unfortunately, it seems like the point of the tribute was missed, because while it looks neat and has ambient noise...something someone doesn't often see in maps, the actual map itself is...well...let me point out a few things. First of all, a few technical nigglings out of the way, the spawns are broken...at least in Skulltag, since all but one of the starts has their Deathmatch flag cleared. Also, the green room is really freaking hard to navigate, and I found myself going into the slime more often than not. Secondly, and this is more of a personal concern, am I the only one who finds it ironic that a tribute map to someone who prioritized oldschool gameplay and map design is stocked to the gills with ZDoom special effects? Really, the whole vibe of the map felt really creepy and obsessed instead of being a nice nod or respectful tribute. But you know what, it's not really what matters to me, if this map helps the ZDaemon community to make peace with one of the greatest modern mappers, then really, everything else is moot. You probably know already if you need to download this map or not, so I'll pass judgement of the final product to you, dear reader.
SnowyCTF - Ben Wachal
Skulltag - CTF - 155 KB -
This is a fairly simple CTF map that makes liberal use of ZDCTFMP textures and feels a whole lot like a poor man's "Ralphis' Magical Ice Forts". I say poor man's because really, this map doesn't look like much, and two of the main entrances are really cramped. It was easy enough to get into the flag room with 2 players per side, and them being bots, but I can only imagine what a few more players would do to it. Other than that, it's a basic two front one back layout. Nothing much else to say about it, really. Give it a try if you're really bored, but there are definitely better options out there.
Urban Twilight - Jacek "Illdo" Dobrzyniecki
ZDoom - Solo Play - 119 KB -
A relatively easy single player romp through a city that is now infested with hellspawn. The detailing is simple and the fights are not challenging for the most part, if you can kill a single Baron in tight quarters given a SSG, you'll have no problems here. The real problem with this map is how it tries to be a "realistic" map. I suppose that such things are fair, considering that this IS a map that was entered in a\"realistic places" contest, but the realism angle really hampers it in terms of what the author could do. Naturally, you get what you get when you try to make ANY map to realistic proportions, too many cramped quarters and too much Z axis in said cramped quarters. The second thing in particular made some battles, like defeating the Baron in the computer lab, more annoying than they should have been. But honestly, for what it is, it's not a bad map. Worth a download if you're bored.
This ongoing section of mine is for WADs that were supposed to be reviewed some time ago, but somehow got passed over. Not to let them be resigned to some dark corner of the FTP server, I will now give this map the proper review it so richly deserves.
OGRE Labs - Russell Pearson
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 987 KB -
The setup of this map is pretty pedestrian, it's the classic "base is infested with a hellish invasion, and you have to go through the base, clear it out, and hopefully take hell down a few notches too". But seriously, who gives a shit. Russell Pearson clearly has a intricate knowledge of how to balance a map and keep the player on edge with his monster selections. More than once I found myself facing a huge demonic horde and turned tail, only to run into a crowd of imps on my way out. Or, try to hide behind a piece of architecture only to find that there was someone waiting for me. The flow of the map worked really nicely, and although I found myself using the same battlefields over and over again, the situations themselves were quite different and I can't imagine how Russell kept it all straight in his head. From beginning to end, this map was a blast, gameplaywise, and it made a hour-long romp (my final time was around 40 minutes, but this doesn't count the number of times I had to reload) through the level seem like a mere twenty minutes.
The detail work itself is stunning, but that kind of goes without saying. The architecture itself, though, seemed a little bit too 'uniform' near the beginning of the map, but as I got closer and closer to the end, the authors texture choices seemed to allow him to dabble a bit and allow me to pick out individual rooms, something that was hard without the automap near the beginning. A little variation would have been nice, but seriously, I'm nit-picking here. Especially impressive from a mappers standpoint was how he fit three exits around the three-stop elevator without any one of them feeling too cramped or shoehorned in. And of course, the outside area was pretty, and when I got to hell, I was genuinely creeped out by the ambient sounds.
And the most surprising thing of all is that he did all of this in BOOM! Yes sir, I played through this entire map in Eternity, and encountered exactly zero problems, though according to the text file a previous version had a bug near the end of the map on non-ZDoom ports. But this map is proof that you can do amazing things, even when you're limited to BOOM. This map is my pick of the...shit, when did this map come out...I think dean missed it TWICE or something stupid like that...but regardless it comes with a hearty recommendation. Play it, jerkfaces.
Unfortunately, this week wasn't all decent maps. In fact, there were so many terrible ones that I decided to put them all under one banner...the goddamn shithouse. Having your map reviewed by me is a privilege and from now on, if your map pisses me off, it will end up here, with a short summary and none of the fancy things other reviews get, like screenshots. In short, leave these maps on your hard drive next time.
- Batma - Ruba
An almost endless S curve that twists on and on and on until the very end where a wall opens and a million Cacos screech at once, scaring the shit out of you.
- Maze of Frustration - Paul Corfiatis
A group of 16 rooms that host an annoying as fuck teleporter maze. Also has the unique distinction of claiming to be a fun DM map as well when in reality it's probably the furthest thing from fun you can have in a DM map.
- Switch Stampede - Matthew "Agent Spork" McGee
You press over 400 switches and I'm assuming the map ends, because I never got that far. Funny for about two seconds, then you are simply left wondering which emo on IRC suggested this stupid endeavor. I blame DD_133.