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    The /newstuff Chronicles #446


    • Phobus Pre-'13 Grab Bag - James "Phobus" Cresswell
      Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - SP/DM/Co-op - 12577899 bytes -
      Reviewed by: lupinx-Kassman
      This download is a package consisting of nine separate wads by Phobus, which added up is a megawad's worth of content. Against my own sanity, I decided to review each wad as if it were an individual release.

      Impaled Zombieman (Screenshot 1)
      The actor is called "PoleZombie" if you want to summon it. It's that familiar twitching body on a stick you find scattered about maps, only this time the skewered dude is still alive, and will take pot-shots at you unless you finish him. Fun little monster that can be disguised as a decoration.

      Old Map Compilation (Screenshots 2-12)
      This is a 12-map Doom 2 episode consisting of maps the author and two of his family members made in the nineties and early 2000s. Most of the maps are by Phobus, but maps 3 and 5 were made by his family members Michael and Steven Cresswell respectively. Unsure of whether the maps were expected to be played consecutively, I pistol-started each map.

      The levels use Doom 2's stock resources. They certainly have that mid-nineties look to them, but in a charming crude and minimalistic way. There is no music in the episode (if you play with ZDoom), so my laptop's fan and the growling monsters were my only source of ambiance.

      For the most part the maps are very short and easy. They usually consist of low amounts of low-tier monsters, but enough monsters to fill out the level. Things do start to heat up somewhat starting at about map 10, but it's still nothing too difficult.

      The only problem I spotted was an inescapable non-damaging pit in map 10, where a bunch of lost souls are let loose. Other than that, I found the classic feeling of these maps to be kinda interesting, and I love short and sweet levels, so I recommend giving this compilation a whirl. If you do though, you'll probably want to challenge yourself by pistol-starting each map on ultra-violence.

      Ascent to Damnation (Screenshot 13)
      This single map was made as part of Obsidian's 1-tag project, where the idea was that the author had to make a Boom-compatible map that could only use the 0 and 1 tags for various level actions.

      The theme of the map uses Doom 2's stock textures to create a sort-of tech-base contained within a white cave that ends in a somewhat hellish finale. It's a decent aesthetic, and I welcome the little touches like the bridge rising from the nukage and the skylights. Oh, and much love for using a Silent Hill 2 song.

      The map's progression is pretty linear. The baddies started off low-rank, but tougher enemies were introduced as I worked my way toward the end. It was never too much trouble though, since besides the finale the enemies pretty much always came from directly ahead of me, so I could back up and fire as I pleased. It isn't a very difficult map, but I would say that it is more difficult than any of the maps in the "Old Map Compilation" or "Tiny Double Pack" included in the pre-'13 package.

      Unfortunately, I did manage to get in a situation that rendered the map incompletable when I pulled the switch that rose the final lift and quickly backed out of the shaft. There was no way (that I could find anyway) to call the lift back down. Despite this issue however, I still thought it was a short and sweet ride.

      Phobus Doom Episode 1: Base Invaders (Screenshots 14-18)
      This mapset is a 4-map ZDoom minisode for Doom 2 that was originally slated to be a longer episode (and thus contains some unused resources). Today's plot is the usual fare: demons crash a base, and you're sent in to clean up. I usually play on hurt me plenty, but the nightmare difficulty had been replaced with an ultra-violence variation that forces the player into pistol-starts, so I tried that out instead.

      What we have are four mostly standard tech-base themed maps, save for the occasional ZDoom feature (sparks, slopes, deep water), and a few new watery textures that suit their areas well. Map02 is a 1024 map, but all of the maps are of a similarly small scale.

      Gameplay is pretty varied depending on the level. The first map is a 1-monster Tyson-style map, consisting of nothing but zombiemen and one angry player with berserk strength (and maybe a chainsaw). It's easy stuff, until difficulty takes a leap in map 2, where space is limited, more of Doom 2's cast shows up, and I find myself in more surrounded-by-monsters situations. The last two maps are similarly hectic, if maybe slightly easier due to increased maneuverable space. Map 4 introduces two cool new aquatic enemies for its underwater sections: a grey bitey fish with low health, and a jellyfish with an (underwater?) flamethrower attack. As for the unused monsters: there are three differently oriented starfish that essentially act as barrels, a lab-coat toting zombie that punches you, the "munchkin" which is an insect-sorta monster like Doom 3's trite, and finally the Ignus Locus, which seems to be a boss that teleports when in pain, uses a homing attack, and has an attack that lets fireballs loose from the ground.

      Overall, it was a fun ride with a nice amount of variety over its short duration. Give it a go.

      Hell Inc. (Screenshot 19)
      A single map made as part of Purist's grindmapping exercise, where the objective was for the author to work on a map and take as long as they liked as long as the map was made in one sitting. The main setup of this map apparently was made in 6 hours with only an hour's worth break time. This time around we must stop hell's new toy: a pump that pumps blood directly into the Earth (clearly hell is running low on ideas).

      Phobus was going for an industrial theme, and the result is a level made mostly of brick and metal, with some tech-base elements sprinkled in (and cemented with Donkey Kong Country 3's factory music). The plot-centric pump forms the centerpiece of the stage, as a memorable blood and metal structure that is viewable in this map's screenshot. It's a nice aesthetic to complement the slaughter.

      As seems to be the case for most of the maps in Phobus's wad package, this is a fairly short map with a low baddie count. It's of moderate difficulty, with spikes occurring during the map's two main back-to-back ambushes: the teleporter to the finale, and the last encounter as you navigate the hellish pump.

      All in all, a fun quick challenge to play over a mug of coffee. Just don't spill it all over yourself near the end.

      The Hunting Pack (Screenshots 20-21)
      This wad consists of two ZDoom maps ("Scars of the Wounded Prey" and "Claws of the Enraged Beast") that can be selected independently of each other from the menu. Each have two difficulty settings: Tough and Slaughter. For both of the maps, I played on the Tough setting (I have low blood lust since I'm such a nice guy).

      Both maps use Doom's stock resources and take place in colorful hyper-detailed tech-bases with a fair amount of space to maneuver in most situations. Aesthetically they are reminiscent of early ZDoom wads, showing off features like colored lighting, fog, detailed slopes, rotating polyobjects, scrolling skies, etc.

      The two maps actually play quite differently from each other. In "Scars of the Wounded Prey", I found myself mostly navigating through ZDoom-scripted battle sequences, with each sequence punctuated by killing all of the monsters in the set arena. This resulted in a pretty linear map progression, though I did manage get a bit lost in a part of the map that requires toggling four switches Hexen-style (one of the switches was hidden underneath a pool of nukage). Essentially, you pretty much have to get 100% kills to beat the map. The map only provides you with only two tools to get the job done: a chaingun and a rocket launcher, so if you enjoy blasting groups of demons down long corridors, this map should be up your alley. "Claws of the Enraged Beast" is more of what you might expect. It is a challenging map that provides you with a larger arsenal, and since there are less scripted battles, you are more free to dispose of the opposition how you please. As for the two map's similarities, they are both moderate-to-large sized maps unlike the other maps I've played in the pre-grab pack so far. They have their fair share of ambushes ("Scars of the Wounded Prey" more so), but due to the high amounts of health provided, they aren't too tough to beat (on Tough difficulty anyway).

      I had a lot of fun blasting through both of these maps, though I can see how some players might not like "Scars of the Wounded Prey" as much since it focuses mainly on divided scripted battles. I would still recommend it to other players.

      Justice (Screenshots 22-23)
      ...and now for something completely different. Justice consists of two ZDoom maps that can be chosen independently from the menu (Blinding Bright and Infernal Mechanics). There are three difficulties: divine providence, non-believer, and Pariah. I played on Pariah, because I'm a bad-ass I guess.

      Blinding Bright has a completely new set of textures to take you out of the usual Doom surroundings. The setting is a sort-of white-washed temple with a pretty landscape skybox. It is set up like an arena, with three buildings primarily for inserting keys, four areas where you grab the keys and other necessities (which triggers the battles), and a center island surrounded by swimmable water. You start off with a lot of free roaming space, but this becomes more limited as the arena's structure changes throughout the duration of the map. Infernal Mechanics looks more like the Doom we all recognize. Its theme consists of mostly rock textures, with occasional bits of tech-base and the temple textures from Blinding Bright thrown in. It also feels a bit cramped and awkward to navigate compared to Blinding Bright due to its narrow hallways and sort-of one-directional progression.

      Both maps contain a new weapon that is central to their gameplay: a bladed staff with various melee attacks and a projectile attack that uses err... monk souls as ammo (all enemies in Blinding Bright drop this type of ammo). Blinding Bright plays like a total conversion, as you won't see a single Doom monster here (you will however be provided the customary shotgun, so don't have a heart attack). The idea is pretty simple; you grab a key which spawns some type of new enemy in the arena. Defeat the enemy, place the key on a pedestal, grab a new key, and rinse and repeat. The challenges are as follows: first you fight a horde of punchy monks that prefer to walk underwater rather than swim. Next you fight four flying multi-colored orbs that fire lasers at you. Third, you battle a boss orb of sorts with more health and more complex laser attack patterns. Finally you fight... a giant multicolored polygonal face wearing a crown I think. During the last battle, I ran out of ammo for all weapon types, so I ended up having to use melee to finish the job (which was easier than I expected). Infernal Mechanics is a tougher challenge due the layout's limited maneuverability (maneuverability you will cherish due to your second weapon being the rocket launcher in this map). The orb boss from Blinding Bright and most of the enemies that went unused in Phobus Doom Episode 1 will make an appearance in this map, including punchy scientists, bitey munchkin bugs, and the Ignis Locus boss. One new map specific enemy also appears: a cyborg baron with an easy to dodge flamethrower attack. Only the orb boss will drop ammo for the staff, so you have to be conservative with the weapon's alt-fire.

      Overall I really enjoyed Blinding Bright for its total conversion feel. I liked Infernal Mechanics less so, but I still appreciate it for its experimental nature.

      The Tiny Double Pack (Screenshots 24-30)
      This wad consists of two selectable "episodes": Tiny Pack 1, which is a minisode consisting of five maps (six if you count the ending scrawl), and an individual map called Minimal Resistance. In today's story: our injured unarmed hero finds himself trapped in an arena somewhere in hell, and has to escape to a facility with the help of his marine buddies. Afterwards, he must escape the under-siege facility while listening to the horrifying echoes of 80s movie one-liners crackle over his radio. There are two difficulty levels: Easy and Tough. I played on Tough since I'm not a little bitch.

      Tiny Double Pack is the logical conclusion of Phobus's tendency towards small maps. To set an example, the level with the most monsters contains 41 baddies, and this map isn't even in the first episode. Doom 2's stock resources are used, though there is a new hellish sky and ZDoom skyboxes adorn the maps (making the structures in the background look impossibly huge due to their static perspective). The episode takes place in hell, and uses a small set of natural, brick, and hellish textures in a functional fashion (I particularly liked the cavernous theme of the first episode's second map). Minimal Resistance takes place in a bright silver tech-base, complete with details like the world's most uncomfortable beds, blood that turns to water when you cleanse the base of evil, and rude scientists that finally seem to fit their surroundings.

      Though there are low amounts of resistance, you are not completely safe. You begin the first episode deprived of all weapons, and in battered condition (30 health). There are also some map hazards, such as an endless hail of fireballs that assaults you from the abyss, or zombies that rise from their graaaaves. After gathering equipment, the maps are pretty much a breeze. It is easy to either mow down or simply bypass the opposition that comes before you. There are even a couple of helpful marines to kill hellspawn for you on the final map of tiny pack 1. Minimal Resistance is a bit more challenging, as you have to bypass some heavy hitters early on with limited equipment, and you're basically required to kill all monsters to end the map. Still, it's hardly overwhelming.

      In summary, a collection of easy-peasy minimaps. A good place to start if you're going to play the wads in this package.

      Virus (Screenshots 31-39)
      Now for the big cheese of the package. Virus is a 10-map (12 technically) ZDoom Total Conversion. Most of the maps were made by Phobus, though Mik57 and hnsolo77 also pitched in maps 6 and 7 respectively. It takes place in some sort of computerized environment, where the inhabitants have been infected by some sort of virus that you have been sent in to extinguish. From the menu you can choose to either go directly into the main set of maps itself, or play the training mission, which would probably be recommended first since you need it to recognize the doors, switches, and deep water in the maps.

      The levels are stylized such that they consist of nothing but monochrome textures (save for a grid texture in the training map). The environment is quite colorful, and architecture is complex and abstract enough to keep the map design interesting. There are two songs used throughout the 9 main maps: a midi from Need for Speed 3, and a midi from Goldeneye 64. This unfortunately led to the music becoming a bit repetitive, so I eventually started playing in silence. The enemies and items use simple sprites with few colors, but they suit the aesthetic well and come with cute digital sound effects. One last interesting note: if you played Community Chest 4 map 13, the first map in the main campaign may seem familiar.

      Bid farewell to gravity, for this is a flying wad. Mouselook is therefore essential to the gameplay, and though vertical movement may feel a little strange at times, enemies and items are usually laid out in such a way that it feels natural. Level progression is still like you'd expect (hit switches to open doors), though in some maps you have to search out and destroy beeping generators to make progress. The TC has a new roster of colorful enemies: immobile turrets that fire a continuous stream of weak projectiles, "Spores" which are flying green fish-like enemies that fire more lethal red projectiles, "prisms" which are purple diamond looking things that fire projectiles and have a discharge attack that damages anything within their radius, "Viruses" which are blue pod looking things with a ton of health and an easy-to-dodge attack that takes a while to charge, "Mesh-walkers" which kind of look like wire-frame cyberdemons, are nearly as sturdy, and have both missile and arachnotron-like attacks, and finally the "Leader" which looks like a "Spore" molded into the shape of an airplane that can deflect projectiles and fire a stream of projectiles similar to the player's primary weapon. Speaking of weapons, there are five slots, but there only appear to be three weapons as far as I can tell: your primary unlimited weapon that fires a stream of highly inaccurate projectiles, a weapon dropped by "Spores" that fires accurate red projectiles with higher damage, and finally a weapon with scarce ammo that fires slow bursts of blue projectiles in box formation. There are a variety of powerups, most of which are equivalents to Doom's powerups with some exceptions: a powerup that grants you higher speed, and one that gives your primary weapon a single insta-death projectile.

      I did have one problem in the final map, where I had to lower myself into a waterhole to move on. No matter how I oriented myself as I flew toward the hole, I couldn't get through. Even when I set my fly up/down controls in the setup, the controls strangely didn't seem to do a thing. Finally I had to temporarily disable flying just so I could pass through. It probably wouldn't have been a problem in OpenGL GZDoom, since that offers the player full range when looking up or down. This was a minor issue in the scheme of things however, and I always welcome wads that try out new concepts. Therefore, I say this virtual excursion is worth a trip.

    • Golachab - Cynical
      Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 222513 bytes -
      Reviewed by: mouldy
      This is a single map for Doom 2. According to the text file, it was inspired by "Hillside Siege" from Alien Vendetta. It's a tough, fast paced jaunt around a hellish castle and cavern environment. Not a long map but difficult enough to cause me many many deaths on ultra-violence. I found that HMP was more my speed, though even so I had a generous helping of saves. The difficulty stems mainly from the heavy usage of mid to high tier monsters, lots of mancubuses and revenants, and from the start it's a fight for resources while dodging multiple attacks.

      It's one of those maps that seems a bit overwhelming at first, even without using large numbers of enemies, but it becomes more fun once you get the hang of the layout. Some of the fights are a touch simplistic perhaps, but on the whole it's a good quick blast for people who want an action packed arse-kicking.

    • Flay the Obscene - Part two - Chris Hansen
      Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 143889 bytes -
      Reviewed by: mouldy
      This is an update to a wad from 2000; the map itself hasn't been changed other than moving it to the map 01 slot, but what the hell, I never played it before so here's a review.

      This is a single map for Doom 2, taking place in a complex intertwining castle populated by resurrecting chaingunners amongst other things, though the other things will not stick in your mind in the same way as the eternal chaingunners. While you explore the maze-like confines gradually unlocking the way forward, the sound of archvile laughter accompanies you as they contemplate your imminent teleportation right in front of one of their immortal chaingunner minions. You soon learn to run immediately from every teleportation pad into the loving arms of whatever else may lurk in this castle, anything being preferable to point blank machine-gun fire.

      It's a well made map and still looks great, and to his credit the author does apologise for the chaingunners in the text file. If you are man enough to soak up a few bullets then have a go.

    • Dance - Sasha
      Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 7669886 bytes -
      Reviewed by: nub_hat
      Dance is an impressive 40-level experimental effort for ZDoom. This is an enormous wad and it will likely take you several weeks if not months to beat. If you are looking for a fast paced, action packed monster frag fest map set, this is not it. As the title suggests, the gameplay is mainly focused around movement. You can be required to move around the map collecting items, or you will simply dodge projectiles that fly at you. It is a big mix of platforming and puzzles with a long time between each fight. Your ammo supply has been cut down very heavily, and you will often need to retreat to restock on ammo in the middle of fights. Some maps will give you orders via a text message coming up on your screen to help you understand your immediate goal in the level. It is never as easy as it sounds, and you will often need to do some thinking about how to accomplish this goal.

      Every level is very heavily scripted, and it can feel nothing like Doom at times. Most of maps contain scripts that change the level dynamically, requiring the player to move constantly instead of standing in one spot. There are some pure puzzle levels in here as well; if you've ever wanted to play Tetris or Arkanoid in first person, this wad delivers just that. You can easily spend several hours trying to beat one of the puzzle games featured in this wad. The difficulty is incredibly high throughout and can feel very unfair at times. I do not recommend playing above the "I'm too young to die" difficulty setting before you are very familiar with the levels. This wad can be tedious at times, but if you stick with it, you will experience some creative and innovative gameplay coupled with interesting and unique settings with fantastic visuals.

    • Bunker 1024 - HanktheLugia'sBitch
      Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 3400739 bytes -
      Reviewed by: Snakes
      The imaginatively-nicknamed HanktheLugia'sBitch brings forth the unimaginatively-titled Bunker 1024, and as you probably already guessed, this is a 1024-styled level... that takes place in a bunker.

      While the design is competent enough, an over-dependence on 64-unit corridors, fast doors, and right angles makes for an unfortunately bogged-down experience. Almost every fight takes place on a level surface and can be abused in some way (the open-shoot-close technique on fast doors being the prime offender) with only the plasma rifle fight being of any real interest.

      That said, it's a decent enough map to look at - even though it is in Hexen format, there's only a couple of particle fountains that could have easily been omitted - with decent texture usage and heavy detail. Alas, it proves to be as detrimental to the shooting-monsters experience as it does to the looking-at-stuff experience, and just isn't quite enthralling enough to be forgivable.

      All in all, if you like 1024 maps, this should be a quick, decent playable little number. It's nothing you'll remember after a good night's sleep, though.

    • Catalyst - Jacob H. Orloff
      Ultimate Doom - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 162608 bytes -
      Reviewed by: mouldy
      A single map replacement for E1M1, in commemoration of Doom's 20th birthday. It's a simple three key hub kind of affair, set in a techbase of mostly square rooms and corridors. The detailing and texturing is pleasant enough, some of it is a bit busy, almost to the point of being psychedelic in places, but never offensively so. However, the underlying structure is rather basic even when compared to the 20 year old maps. Fighting consists largely of dealing with walls of meat at ground level with shotgun or chaingun and can get a bit grindy, especially when the barons start coming out to play. There isn't a lot of health in the map either, which feels a bit like a cheap way of upping the difficulty.

      I can appreciate the sentiment behind the map, though, and the effort that went into it. If you are looking for a quick and unsophisticated Doom fix, then here it is.

    • Focus - Xaver
      Doom 2 - Multiplayer - Deathmatch - 159395 bytes
      Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
      So, here we have four short duel maps by Xaver in a Greenwar/Dwango fashion. The layouts are really fluid and funny to play (played with bots), the interconnections are cool, and texturing and detailing are very well done in their simplicity.

      The only bug, if I will be picky, is a misalignment on the floors in map02; also, the music for the first two maps is technically similar (sounds like a modified version of the theme).

      However, if you want to have some fun fragging some people in 1-on-1 action, this is the wad for you!

    • Unused Doom Music Replacement - Doomy
      Ultimate Doom - N/A - N/A - 105352 bytes
      Reviewed by: mrthejoshmon
      This wad replaces the music of Ultimate Doom with the music that was cut from the final version of the game, probably due to copyright infringement, because many of the MIDI tracks were renditions of other songs like "We Die Young" by Alice in Chains or "Silent Scream" by Slayer.

      Anyway, the music isn't half bad actually (I love E1M4 and E1M9) and fits well inside the gameplay of Doom (most of the tracks are metal tracks that fit perfectly with the mowing down of hell spawn). It is also interesting to have these unused tracks playing in game.

      It is worth a download if you are planning on playing through UD again and want to add some flavor to it.

    • Hell's End V2 - Fellowzdoomer
      Doom 2 - PrBoom+ - Solo Play - 10304 bytes -
      Reviewed by: Obsidian
      Knowledge gleaned from the textfile:

      -This map was made on an Android phone
      -This is the author's first upload
      -It's supposed to be influenced by MAP30 of Speed of Doom
      -This is supposed to be an improvement on an earlier version submitted to the Doomworld Mega Project 2013

      Now on to business: Hell's End V2 starts you out in a plain brick room with a veritable slew of weaponry and ammunition. You grab the stuff, enter the teleport (which looks almost exactly like the rest of the room) and end up in an undetailed arena with Cyberdemons, Spider Masterminds, a crapload of Invulnerability Spheres and a heap of boss shooters on top of a tower. The inspiration is evident, but unfortunately the enjoyment isn't: the Invulnerability Spheres prevent any sort of danger or gameplay, and all you need to do is press a switch to lower the tower so you can kill the boss brain. And that wraps it up.

      I get that this was made with limited and unconventional tools, but that doesn't absolve the whole thing completely: it's bland and easy and not much else. In short, the idea is there but the execution needs work. Also, put it on the MAP30 slot instead of MAP22 so you don't get monsters stuck together: it looks particularly bad. Hopefully you'll keep trying your hand at mapping, but I'd advise you to start small and work your way up to the more complex stuff. Hopefully this feedback helps you out.

    • Swim With The Whales - Ribbiks
      Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 2719273 bytes -
      Reviewed by: Tib
      Ah, Swim With The Whales... what can I say about it that will tell the prospective player of its brilliance? All I can say is that it's a nice little collection of three maps by Ribbiks, based around building an abstract environment with very challenging gameplay. This time around Ribbiks rolled the dice and ended up with the colour blue as the basis for the maps, get it? It's called Swim With The Whales because whales swim in water and water is blue, how artistic and abstract is that? You'll probably be wishing there actually was some whales in Swim With The Whales once you start playing it.

      Despite Ribbiks' repeated difficulty warnings, I thought to myself "I'm a big, strong Australian macho man who allegedly fights massive spiders with his bare hands in the scrub while it is on fire from the heat constantly, what could Swim With The Whales do to me?" and subsequently selected Ultra Violence. This courage was short lived, replaced by crippling fear as I inadvertently unleashed wave upon wave of monster from the depths of this blue tinged nightmare to ravage my health and ammunition, and then finally sobbing in the fetal position as insidious Arch Viles undid all of my hard work and then annihilated me.

      Take Ribbiks' advice: if you're looking for a nice game of Doom to go with your dinner, then pick a lesser difficulty. I won't judge you for it.

      It took me a fight or two to realize that decisive victory in Swim With The Whales is dependent on a bit of cunning as well as a keen trigger finger, and mindlessly blasting stuff is likely to get you killed at some points. Usually I'm not a big fan of hordes of monsters swamping me with projectiles, and some players may be turned away from the wad by some parts that seem outright unfair, but Swim With The Whales kept me hooked by giving me the precious time to think about my approach to destroying large amounts of monsters with only marginally adequate resources. This may be less evident in lower difficulty settings, but you'll still probably find yourself in a jam no matter what difficulty you're on, so keep it in mind.

      Ah, but these gameplay aspects are hardly Swim With The Whales' most enticing feature. They simply add flavour to the cold, dark, blue otherworld that Swim With The Whales takes place in. You will find yourself traversing the last tractable pieces of an otherwise pitch black realm, traveling through vast and long abandoned marble constructs, twisted metal fortresses and unnatural rock formations which rest amongst spires of brick and iron that illuminate the endless dark in a shade of watery blue.

      Completely disconnected from any concepts of hell or earth, Swim With The Whales can perhaps only be compared to the habitat of its namesake: the deep and unexplored oceans of an unfathomable world. It's tranquil, but at the same time apocalyptic. Where did this world come from? Where did its inhabitants go? Perhaps the monsters ARE this world's inhabitants... why are they so hostile when they live in an ocean paradise? We'll never know the answers to these questions, but I can't help but be fascinated by what Ribbiks has created in Swim With The Whales.

      I was enamoured by this wad from the outset for its amazingly unorthodox take on Doom, and I think it's safe to that say Ribbiks may be a genius. I'm really hoping we see more stuff like this in the near future.

    • Visions of Eternity - Tobias Münch
      Ultimate Doom - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 974748 bytes -
      Reviewed by: Tib
      Visions Of Eternity (VOE) is an episode for The Ultimate Doom created by Tobias Münch, apparently periodically worked on over 15 years and just completed at the end of 2013, which would leave its start point somewhere in 1998. That's a hell of a long time. With that said, what Tobias made is more than worth the time spent on it.

      While I think I have some idea how to write a review, Visions Of Eternity left such an impression on me that I was speechless in the face of its qualities. As such, I've spent at least 3 days working on reviewing it, trying to properly collate my thoughts and express them in a manner that tell people just how great Visions Of Eternity really is. I think I've finally come up with something.

      First, I was blown away with how "classic" the episode felt as I went through it. Ultimate Doom fans will recognize the influence of John Romero and Sandy Petersen's Ultimate Doom maps when playing Visions Of Eternity, but it delivers such familiarity with some sleek, almost modern detail subtly placed to enhance the experience.

      To put that into perspective, I took exactly 106 screen shots when originally playing the wad, and I've had to make some sort of screen shot battle royale in order to hand pick the screen shots that appear in this review, and even then there might be too much. There's just too many good parts that need to be seen.

      I think that while people can, with a bit of practice, easily make maps that have a classic look and feel, to make a map play well is an entirely different story. I definitely felt as though Visions Of Eternity hit the nail on the head in this regard. Its fights are tough but fair when playing on Ultra Violence, and its supplies are distributed for maximum effect.

      Another thing that struck me was the real sense of progress I felt while playing Visions Of Eternity. The maps slowly but surely transform from a modernized Doom E1 feel to an almost Sandy Petersen-like nightmare, complete with clashing texturing and moody lighting. Add to this longer, more arduous levels towards the end of the episode, and you've got what might be described as a real journey through hell, just as Doom intended.

      But, even the best wads aren't perfect, and one thing that jarred me about Visions Of Eternity was the final two levels felt as though they were mixed up. E5M7, aptly titled "Descent", is large, arduous and ends on a massive climactic note in which the player is set upon by entire hordes, whereas E5M8 feels like it was meant to be an earlier part of the episode and a baron boss fight was bolted on to the end.

      I'd also say that the earlier levels of the episode look a bit TOO much like episode 1 of Doom, as though John Romero was beaming his thoughts from the past and straight onto the map editor. There were points in the episode where I felt a very distinct déjà vu. That is a very subjective "criticism" though, and I'm sure others would consider that authenticity as one of the best features of Visions Of Eternity.

      All I can say is this: if you are a fan of The Ultimate Doom, you MUST play this episode. Even if you aren't, I recommend you give it a shot. I can say without a doubt that Visions Of Eternity is one of the most awesome wad files I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Thanks, Tobias.

      Oh, and if you've ever tried your hand at making a Doom map, you should go and download the PDF that Tobias made; it provides some information and background to the maps that will definitely be interesting to you. You can grab it here.

    • Doom Palette in Black & White - scifista42
      Doom/Doom 2 - Vanilla - N/A - 16473 bytes -
      Reviewed by: kmxexii
      This custom palette does exactly what it claims to do - turns Doom's colors into grayscale. I ran it through "The Spirit World", it being one of the more colorful levels I can remember, and wasn't disappointed. It's a neat experiment, and I've seen it (or something similar?) get some use in teaser screenshots already. I wouldn't want to play Doom like this, personally, but I'm glad that something like this exists.

    • Doom 2 the Way id Did - Various
      Doom 2 - Vanilla - SP/DM/Co-op - 2080786 bytes -
      Reviewed by: kmxexii
      If you aren't familiar with "TWiD", it is now a group of people dedicated to mimicking the design styles of the "professional" Doom authors, those being the guys that got paid money to make Doom maps. Doom 2 the Way id Did is, understandably enough, the Doom II megaWAD we all knew would follow DTWID. The fruits of their labor are just as sloppy crazy as the originals, a hot mess of sectors and linedefs that reminds you that part of the reason Doom II seems so easy now is because we've all played it to death. Veterans, of course, will breeze through most of this mapset, which only figures.

      I think that you could take any one of these maps and throw it into the original lineup without batting an eye, with the craziest ones standing toe to toe with "The Spirit World" as far as spectacle (and frustration) go. Looking back, I got a bit of "Doom by Numbers" feel where I sensed the formula a bit too strongly, but it isn't any less of a blast to play if you love Doom II. Personally, the existence of the Commander Keen secret levels alone vindicates the existence of this project.

    Let me guess; one of those reviewers doesn't know how to properly appreciate a WAD that you liked this week. Want to do something about it? Instead of complaining in the comment thread like you always do, perhaps you can make a difference and write some better reviews than those idiots up there. The /newstuff Review Center is the place to do so. Put that Doomworld Forums account to constructive use, because you need one to submit reviews.

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    Wow, thanks for the incredibly in-depth review Kassman! Especially as most of that has been seen before at various points in the past :)

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    Great reviews.

    Swims with the whales is the only I have played so far. It is very very challenging in some parts. I sure enjoyed the pain tho'

    Looks like there are others to get busy with on this list.

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    I read the D2TWiD review in the time it took to inhale and thought that the page hadn't loaded properly. Where's the rest of it? Such a project surely deserves a bit of time to explain pertinent things, such as which maps play well, which are better looking, how long the wad took to create, who was involved etc but each of these basic points are missing. So it's not really a review. And I hate to criticise reviews, as it seems a bit like backstabbing for one reviewer to do that to another. Phobos' incredibly generous grab-bag gets a far more detailed explanation.

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    Honestly, the review for D2TWID could have been just "it's pretty good, as you should know because you have already played it" and that would have been an accurate review for the majority of the forum-goers.

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    Perhaps so, but some of us have been too busy working on PSX and other projects and would like to know what our PC counterparts have been up to.

    It's like saying there is no point reviewing The Hobbit or Star Trek Into Darkness because everyone is going to see them anyway. "Just see it, a load of stuff happens, the plot is already on a few websites, it's really good and you'll probably love it - THE END." That should be a guideline for a review, not the review itself.

    The reviewer's other stuff is usually of top quality, so I was a bit surprised at the casual brush-off he gave to such an important project.

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    Yeah, I could have mentioned my favorite picks, or gone into slightly better detail. Picking favorites from this is like pulling teeth, though. It's just a fantastic collection of Doom II-inspired levels from my viewpoint. I'm also loathe to repeat myself too much.

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    Gez said:

    Honestly, the review for D2TWID could have been just "it's pretty good, as you should know because you have already played it" and that would have been an accurate review for the majority of the forum-goers.


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    I was actually surprised kmx didn't link his detailed review in the t/nc review body. Is that officially frowned upon?

    I guess in such a case, it would need to be an allow-by-whitelist sort of thing. I think kmx linking his full review would be fine here because kmx is a notable reviewer in the Doom sphere and he knows what he's doing, but I can understand if the consensus is to not just let every Joe Blow link their own blog and be all "check out my site!!!!'

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    Memfis said:


    way to take a joke and make yourself look like a pretentious ass yet again

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    I don't think he was trying to be unpleasant, I think he was just joking. To be honest I was going to say something similar as a joke but didn't want it to be interpreted as an attack.

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    Xaser said:

    I was actually surprised kmx didn't link his detailed review in the t/nc review body. Is that officially frowned upon?

    I guess in such a case, it would need to be an allow-by-whitelist sort of thing. I think kmx linking his full review would be fine here because kmx is a notable reviewer in the Doom sphere and he knows what he's doing, but I can understand if the consensus is to not just let every Joe Blow link their own blog and be all "check out my site!!!!'

    I don't think there's any rule against it, I just haven't done it.

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    sometimes you gotta pick your battles when a vague post (which i interpretted being directed at the standard of reviews going in such a direction) already draws in a ton of people putting you on 'submit reply' gunpoint.

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