Welcome to another edition of The /newstuff Catch-up-icles. Here's some more WADs from December of last year, rounded up by a ragtag team of people who just so happened to feel like reviewing them. As always, see the end of this article to find out how you can help in the review process.
Keep Running - Chrisbo Sonnekins
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 262283 bytes -
Reviewed by: Nuxius
Epically large and non-linear would be a good quick description of this map.
From the start, the amount of monsters trying to get you may be a bit overwhelming, but if you keep focused, you will prevail. Carefully managing your resources is extremely important here, as this is a long map as well. And I do mean long; on your first time playing it, this is definitely one of those maps where you'll have a "time sucks" for your time when you're done. Although some of the areas are optional, and not required to complete the map, it's generally a good idea to visit them, as they house items you will definitely need to survive the slaughter.
Overall, even though I had a fun time with the map, there are some complaints I have. Most important is that the author seems to have made the map a bit too big vs. what they can manage; as a result, the map is a mishmash of themes that don't really relate to each other in any way. Looking at the screen shots, it's hard to imagine that they all came from a single map. Just going through a door can transport you from a techbase to a marble fortress or a old library; you never really know what theme lies on the other side of a door. Also, there were some things that I questioned as to why they were there; an example is a couple of red skull key activated bars where the player can reach either side of them without having the required key, thus rendering them pointless and making them more of a nuisance than anything.
Nonetheless, even with the theme mishmash, this level has it where it counts, and that's gameplay, so it gets a easy recommendation from me.
The Ghouls Forest 4 - Dr.Tickle
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 985762 bytes
Reviewed by: magicsofa
Mr. Tickle has taken it upon himself to recreate the experience we've all come to love, the ghoul's forest. Stupid sound clips and a frustrating ghost which teleports every time you shoot it - as well as not working in ZDoom as the txt claims it should - make this a poor map. Try creating something original, rather than ripping off something that made its mark but has since passed.
Spd-e3m1 - A Doom 1 E3M1 remake - Da Spadger
doom.exe - Solo Play - 56120 bytes -
Reviewed by: printz
This map is really a remake of Doom's E3M1, 'Hell Keep', with better detail all around and some confrontations tweaked a bit, having more monsters and ammunition. Otherwise, it's as short as its Doom original, and I think the author could have worked more and expanded it a lot before releasing it. At least it works as an example of how a primitive map can be decorated. It makes me wish the author remade the whole Doom Episode 3 this way...
The level was completed by me legitimately with Doom.exe, but the screenshots were taken afterwards with Eternity, because PCXs aren't supported by the conventional software I'm running.
Zukky's Gaveyard - Ruba
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 32071 bytes
Reviewed by: Creaphis
I was expecting to borrow two of Deathz0r's famous lines, namely "DOES NOT WORK IN INTENDED SOURCE PORT" and "Shit", and was pleasantly surprised on both counts. This small copy-pasted map is actually playable. Download it if you want to briefly revisit 1994.
1024-4 Directors Cut - Alter
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 1679406 bytes -
Reviewed by: Creaphis
It's always interesting when mappers choose to inflict a limit upon themselves. I believe that restrictions can actually aid creativity, but sometimes a limit is just too hard to overcome. Has Alter succeeded within the extremely confining 1024 premise? Yes! Mostly.
As this is a one-man wad instead of a community 1024 project, Alter has decided to give the wad thematic continuity and a progression in difficulty. However, because it's impossible to also give these levels a progression in size, the majority of the wad has the player fighting small groups of hard monsters in small areas. The wad is much more fun than that sounds, though. Alter does an excellent job of varying the layouts - almost every fight feels like a new challenge. Difficulty in this mapset is high - your reflexes must be quick, your movements must be agile, and your ammo use must be sparing. The maps are also great visually. Many different themes and architectural styles are used throughout the wad, and detail occasionally borders on the obsessive. Secrets are present in many of the levels, but are always well hidden - maybe too well.
So, why does this wad succeed "mostly"? Because it's full of bugs! I can't understand how these bugs were missed, because maps 2, 9, 12 and 15 can't even be exited in PrBoom+, which is the port specifically suggested within the text file. The aforementioned maps have doors with "S1" actions when they should be "D1". Map 13 has "S1" switches that should be "W1", so it can still be finished but it's a considerable error. I can't find any fixed, newer wads either, so the glitches are here to stay.
If the first part of my review makes you want to try this wad (it really is some good fun) then I'd recommend opening up Doom Builder and fixing the issues in 2, 9, 12 and 13. Then, play maps 1-14 (from pistol starts) and skip the rest, as quality declines after that point. If you want a quick feel for this wad, just idclev to 1, 5 and 10.
Spdgr1 - Da Spadger
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 52306 bytes -
Reviewed by: Phil1984
Reading the description, "My very first map", never inspires any confidence in me whatsoever, and while it's certainly not Wow.wad bad, all-in-all it should have stayed snugly on the author's hard drive, rather than being inflicted upon the /idgames Archives. This short level was clearly based on the Dr. Sleep tutorial level for Doom Builder and with its handful of enemies and plain architecture there is nothing here that warrants a download. With that being said, there is certainly some potential shown here by the author. The enemy placement shows some promise and there has been some effort put into the lighting which is pleasing to see from a novice level designer. Still, avoid it unless you really have no better way to kill a few minutes.
Spdgr2 - Da Spadger
doom.exe - Solo Play - 8012 bytes -
Reviewed by: Phil1984
Spdgr2 is essentially a smaller, more compact and slightly more difficult remake of E3M8. You are thrust almost immediately into the action against a spiderdemon with fireballs raining upon you from above courtesy of imps and cacodemons. If you feel like playing an E3M8 remake then you could do worse than this level, otherwise I wouldn't waste my time.
DooM2: Help on Earth - Millennium Edition - Rex Claussen
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 97129 bytes -
Reviewed by: GreyGhost
DooM2: Help on Earth - Millennium Edition (or D2:HoE-MEfor short) is a curious map. Rex changed the focus of this map part way through, so what starts out as a joke wad quickly shows signs of having good but tough gameplay. There are plenty of gags and goof-ups - most of which would be standard fare for joke wad junkies - then there's Jimmy.
Gameplay involves surviving a series of ambushes (Hell Knights are my new pet hate) while searching for Jimmy - the storyline's a bit vague in that regard. There's three rooms of crates to negotiate and for maze-haters - two of them - fortunately both are easy to follow. Near the end there's an arena battle that doubles as a switch hunt - if you can stop long enough to press them. Then there's Jimmy.
The change of focus means D2:HoE-ME might annoy more players than it pleases. At least I had a good time - can't say the same for Jimmy.
NORDHELL - Alexander "Eternal" S. (aka Deadall)
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 1212107 bytes -
Reviewed by: Creaphis
Well, when I wrote the review for nordhell.wad, there were two things I hadn't realized: One, I didn't know that this wad also existed, and two, I didn't realize that nordhell.wad was made back in December 2006, so Alexander's experiments with GZDoom actually took place long before we ever got to see REMAIN1 and EPIC. This wad, made December 2007, revisits the northern theme and only makes use of Doom2.exe tricks.
This wad is brighter than its predecessor, is fairly traditional in gameplay, and its music track is a cheerful MIDI rendition of "Joy to the World." Unlike the GZDoom version, it doesn't attempt to create a suspenseful atmosphere, so this level is more of an architectural showpiece. It certainly succeeds at that - Alexander has constructed some beautiful architecture with new graphics. Some textures are from gothictx.wad and retres.wad, but most I haven't seen before. Some sound effects and monster sprites are also changed to better suit the surroundings. The gameplay is a little bit repetitive - most times that you walk through a door, there will be a monster on each side waiting for you. Aside from that, it's great. See for yourself.
Back to Basics - Espi
doom.exe - Solo Play - 1412076 bytes -
Reviewed by: Creaphis
These maps have great balanced gameplay, brilliant layouts that don't feel linear but don't make you feel lost either, unique architecture for every area, about as much lighting and detail as is possible before the seg limit, clever texture use, devious but deducible secrets, and so forth. But we don't need to talk about these things. Here's what I want to talk about, because it's amazing: Espi has taken the stock Ultimate Doom textures, monsters and weapons, and assembled them into an experience as powerfully immersive as any other game I've played.
I should admit here that I'm more receptive to atmosphere than the average gamer. I like to pause and let the details soak in. But, Espi definitely deserves to be lauded for the little touches to this wad that create a strong sense of continuity and mission. Throughout these levels, as the Doomguy explores some vast tech/industrial complex, he slowly comes across elements of the unreal. A wall of human skulls is hidden, just barely out of view. Plumbing that formerly carried water, or some industrial solvent, is leaking blood. Slowly, as the Doomguy works his way from one area to the next, reality is subverted, corrupted, defeated. Even stranger things are seen. Patches of flesh seem to have replaced the metal sheeting of the ventilation system. Colossal spines jut from the floor and through the ceiling, out of sight. Finally, the walls that hem you in are built from the bodies of infinite murderers, and the overwhelming barrage of demons is merely the immune system of some endless and horrible organism.
And you are, of course, the virus.
Even if you don't find yourself whisked off into the worlds of games as easily as I do, you can still rest assured that this is a solid mapset well worth your time, and a good technical example of what vanilla can do. Stop shooting hell knights with that damn SSG for a while and enjoy some quality Doom 1 action.
Halls of the Unhallowed - Stephen Whittaker
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 41023 bytes -
Reviewed by: GreyGhost
Halls of the Unhallowed is a busy little map with a predominantly brown brick decor and an unhealthily large population of hellspawn. Gameplay is a fairly linear key hunt with some well thought out ambushes along the way and a simple switch puzzle. Ammo is adequate on UV and plentiful on HMP - finding the secrets early will improve your chances of survival. Difficulty levels are supported.
One problem this map shares with ChemiComplex is monsters failing to teleport from their holding pens. There's a group that only come out to play on UV and one won't come out at all. There's a couple of texture errors but you mightn't notice them. Overall this map made a better impression on me than ChemiComplex and I'd recommend that it be played on UV or not at all.
ChemiComplex - Stephen Whittaker
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 113074 bytes -
Reviewed by: GreyGhost
Note - no port specified by author - of the six I tried EDGE produced the fewest errors.
ChemiComplex is a wad I would have liked more if I didn't get the impression it's unfinished. Gameplay is good if sometimes tough, ammo is tight at a couple of points. There are some well thought-out traps and a race in the dark to an elevator that had me cursing.
The problems - misaligned textures (how many you see depends on the port you use), a HOM in the yellow key room, rising floors that don't change texture (only EDGE handled that properly), odd texture choices here and there, a group of monsters unable to teleport from their holding room, several secrets bunched together and two secrets missing.
ChemiComplex is a decent wad and well worth playing if you're willing to overlook its problems.