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    The /newstuff Chronicles #451


    • For Jihad Monsters - Mujahid
      Doom/Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 24524781 bytes -
      Reviewed by: The Green Herring
      This is a gameplay mod that puts you in the shoes of an Islamic militant fighting "infidels" with "warp gate technologies" who are using them to make "haraam space food" for "the war over outer space". You get a good sense of what you're in for when you get to the title screen: a vertically-squished drawing of a Star of David with a winged snake bearing the Eye of Providence underneath the Schutzstaffel insignia and the word "Vryal." Which, I should note, was taken from a "New World Order"-type conspiracy theory website.

      The infidels are represented by a collection of NPCs from Marathon mods, a slew of polygonal attack vehicles from an obscure computer game of Middle-Eastern origin, and a copy of the title screen that fires sentient Lehi hand symbols. (Wait, huh?) All of these enemies do silly amounts of damage by Doom standards; the differences between them ultimately amount to how quickly they can knock you down from 100% to 0%. Combined with even the lowliest enemy having the same amount of hitpoints you start with, this means you don't stand much of a chance unless you manage to get strong weapons early on or call in your equally-overpowered allies. You do this by using special al-Qaeda flag items that summon various kinds of al-Qaeda warriors, from standard riflemen to a suicide bomber who opens his coat to... fire bombs at his enemies, coded by someone seemingly unaware of what a suicide bomber is. These characters use sprites from the Marathon-based game "Blood of Bin Laden" (which was ironically about a U.S. marine fighting terrorists), and all of them deal equally wacky amounts of damage. It all amounts to a poorly-balanced mess that borrows resources from other games and game mods without permission and without the skill required to use them well.

      The real fun comes from looking inside of the WAD file. Here, you find hordes of DECORATE code lumps collected under multilayered, nonsensical headers, preceded by comment blocks that often include the ZDoom Wiki descriptions of their base actors for reasons only the author knows. If an enemy is based on or uses a real-life vehicle or weapon, the comment block will include the entire range of statistics for that vehicle or weapon even though it has no bearing on the actual code. Then you get to the CREDITS lump, which is in a class of its own. It starts as it means to go on with oddly-specific credits for game resources, and follows it with credits to various websites for "serving access" to different photos and designs. But then it includes credits for things like the Schutzstaffel "Totenkopf" symbol and the design of the al-Qaeda flag (credited to "Osama bin Laden and other related affiliates from the Soviet-Afghan War"). Then it credits Doom community members for directly helping him with code—accompanied by IRC chat logs as if we needed to know exactly what they said. For bonus points, these chat logs are unedited, so they include EsperNet #zdoom users coming and going (with their IP addresses visible), a person bewildered by the author's attempts to communicate, and another person insulting him.

      If any of the above sounds familiar from a time you looked inside another WAD, this is the work of none other than RV-007, who I last encountered from reviewing his "Manga Skins" pack twice under different names. Indeed, the "For Jihad" WADs are little more than a rebranding of his "Blood of Bin Laden" monster and skin packs, each reviewed in a different newstuff/ Chronicles edition, and the first of which attracted controversy on the ZDoom forums (he specifically thanks wildweasel in CREDITS for "stopping non-constructive critical posts from piling up on my Blood of Bin Laden Monsters topic"). This is the same guy who created a mod meant simply to replace the lost soul with the Doomguy's head, and yet still felt the need to bloat it with weird headers, copied IWAD sounds and a mouse cursor ripped from the Cube engine game Death Illustrated (which makes a comeback here). All I can say is that RV-007 is a very strange man.

      If you're looking for a balanced gameplay mod, skip this one. If, however, you're stricken with morbid curiosity having read the above and you want a look into the mind who created it, download it and open it in the WAD editor of your choice. You will not be disappointed.

    • 32 over 32 - Donnel "Jazzmaster9" Enriquez
      Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 5452249 bytes -
      Reviewed by: plums
      32 over 32 is a set of 32 maps for ZDoom. (Most, but not all, work in Zandronum as well.) It's an "anti-megawad": each of the 32 maps is in its own wad file, and is a standalone map with no relation to the others. The obvious question is "why 32 wad files?", something I wondered at first as well. However the whole idea made a lot more sense when I had played a few of them. Not only is there no continuity between levels, it almost seems as if jazzmaster9 is trying to be as varied as he can between maps, at least at times. All the same, there are a few megawad cliches: a Dead Simple clone, an Icon of Sin fight, a Wolfenstein level, and of course 32 levels, none of which are really necessary in such a package. You could wax philosophical about what constitutes the essence of a megawad, and debate whether this fits the definition or not, but most people probably won't care as long as the levels are fun to play.

      So, are they? Some are for sure. The best ones do something a little different than a standard Doom level, often with restrained-but-effective use of ZDoom features. There's a melee-zombie infested city that has you searching for supplies in buildings, an atmospheric PSX/N64 inspired level with dark imps and console Doom resources, and a Revenge of the Triad themed level complete with jump pads and floating platforms, each of which is a nice twist on normal Doom gameplay, without feeling like a different game.

      On the other hand, there are a few less exciting moments. Few of the levels are especially long or challenging, and so many of the maps that don't have some sort of unique feature are easily forgotten. A few maps use Plutonia or TNT for the IWAD, and often that's the most notable thing about them. I wouldn't say there are any bad maps, but several feel like a good MAP01 for a longer set of maps in the same style, something that of course never comes.

      So, lack of development is what I'd say the main problem is here. The good ideas could have been longer without going stale, the bad ones could have been better with a bit more substance. But it's still an enjoyable set to play through. And in that respect, having several small underdeveloped ideas one after another kind of works, because even if you won't remember every moment, the experience as a whole is a fun one. A good analogy is an appetizer platter, maybe: you'll like some things more than others, but taken as a whole it's substantial enough. And I'm avoiding going too much into each map in detail, because much of the excitement of this set is wondering what the next level in this grab-bag will bring. If you're not put off by the idea of starting up ZDoom 32 times, give 32 over 32 a whirl.

    • Big Spaceport - Jay Greguske
      Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 1712148 bytes -
      Reviewed by: plums
      Big Spaceport is a set of six maps, each of which is based around a theme. The maps are quite large and non-linear, and also fairly challenging. While none of the maps are bad, the first two are a lot less interesting than the others, for reasons I'll get into shortly. The maps are vanilla-compatible, other than breaking the savegame size limit, but due to frequent tutti-frutti on steps, a potential crash in MAP02 (from improper use of a "lower and change texture" action), and many dimly-lit areas, I'd recommend GL rendering in an advanced port.

      The map layouts are the highlight of these levels. They're very large, non-linear, and interconnected, but with enough direction to usually keep you moving forward, in a way I don't often see in Doom levels. Most maps have a good balance between feeling like a real location, and like a maze made for a video game character to explore. The maps also all lead into one another, which strengthens the idea that this is a real place you're in. Though strangely, there are a few odd design choices that make you backtrack often. You often find small health and armour bonuses that require you to go out of your way to get, often dropping down from a ledge and then circling around to get back to where you were, and they hardly seem worth it. There are also a few small spots where you can get stuck, mainly by taking a heroic leap in an attempt to find a secret area - seems like the levels weren't tested against strafe-running in a lot of places. (The other side of that coin is that there are a few easy sequence breaks letting you skip most of certain maps.) But on a larger scale, they flow nicely. And with a lot of generally interesting architecture, and variation in rooms heights and sizes, they managed to hold my attention the entire time I played, despite their large size.

      Combat is more of a mixed bag. There are certainly lots of things to shoot at, with most maps hitting around 500 monsters, but it isn't always the most exciting task. A lot of maps use similar gameplay setups throughout the whole level, which for levels this large can get tedious. Especially as most of the enemies are of the lower tier variety, as are the available weapons; you'll be shotgunning a lot of imps and hitscanners, and punching a lot of demons. If that sounds fun, then great, and I did enjoy it a lot of the time, but I feel like some higher difficulty monsters were really needed to spice things up at times. This is especially the case for the first map, where gameplay is mostly shooting groups of imps and zombiemen with the pistol. Fine for a map like Doom 2's Entryway, a bit more boring for one that's five times as large. Maps 5 and 6 are a major improvement from the rest, since you see a larger variety of monsters by that time, and you'll have more than the piddly handful of rockets found on previous maps. But even then, the bulk of the resistance is made from low HP enemies.

      Despite this, the maps are fairly challenging, and this keeps the combat much more engaging than it would otherwise be. Resource scarcity is a factor a lot of the time, especially with pistol starts. You don't need to count every bullet, but you do need to be mindful of your ammo, and finding a lot of secrets sure helps (of which there are many, ranging from the obvious to the obscure). The third map is perhaps the most difficult, assuming you don't manage to skip most of it, because it's full of damaging slime which you need to cross. And radsuits are a rare commodity, particularly on ultra-violence. The author does provide a "hints" textfile that gives you a few tips, though you can get by without them, and in fact you might have more fun without reading it if you prefer to figure things out yourself.

      The visuals are decent, though there's an awful lot of combat in dark areas, and a lack of lighting variations in general. This is done intentionally for gameplay I believe, as well as to stay in vanilla limits, but that doesn't make it any easier on the eyes. The second map fares the worst here, with so much of it taking place in dark brown caves. You can find a light visor, but then you're just looking at bright brown caves, which is not much better. Still, good texture use and simple visual details go a long way to keeping things looking interesting most of the time.

      Lastly there are no custom resources here, meaning you get stuck with the default Doom 2 music. I highly recommend playing with some sort of replacement tunes, as otherwise you'll be stuck with the stock tunes through these large maps, of which the later ones can take over an hour to complete on your first playthrough. This also means no level names, no new textures or skies, etc., which is no serious fault but might have made the wad stand out a bit more.

      All in all, Big Spaceport is a fun set of levels that get better as you get further in the wad - if you find yourself bored by the early levels, skip ahead a map or two. Despite several imperfections, I definitely recommend checking them out, especially if you like non-linear maps with a lot to explore.

    • A wad made by Ruben - Ruben F. Duarte aka BennyD
      Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 93732 bytes -
      Reviewed by: Cacatou
      A WAD made by Ruben is a collection of twelve maps (MAP01-11 and MAP32, MAP11 is incomplete though). As is to be expected, MAP32 is a copy of Go 2 It but with about 3.5 times the monsters. The WAD primarily consists of short maps that are packed with mid-tier opposition; basically, you're going to run into a lot of hell knights and some barons, mancubuses, arachnotrons and archviles. The maps themselves are pretty good, offering short contests that take about five minutes to complete while maintaining enough balance that the player can't just charge through. The maps are generally linear and offer a far more fun and rewarding experience if one plays more recklessly. It may just have been me, but I felt a sort of Hell Revealed E1 vibe from the map design.

      The maps seem to get less interesting toward maps 9-11, which are longer and have less difficult battles but have very promising layouts. In conclusion, I would recommend this WAD as a quick romp. Don't expect too much, but there's definitely enough play in it to satisfy any Doomer. My recommendations for the author would be to add a bit of non-linearity to his maps and to basically combine the quick, exciting spirit of the first maps with the layouts of the later maps.

    • Hello Kitty - Canofbacon & Calmperson
      Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 92524 bytes -
      Reviewed by: Obsidian
      Basically a Wolfenstein-esque map with Hello Kitty textures and a boss fight with a one-sprite Hello Kitty that shoots rockets. The Nazi Hello Kitty textures are kind of funny, but apart from that there's not really much reason to download this.

    • The Worst Death Match Map Ever! - Josh Travis
      Doom 2 - Skulltag / Zandronum - Team DM - 1865 bytes -
      Reviewed by: The Green Herring
      From the creator of "Carson Hallways" (carnwav2.zip) comes a level described as "Self-Explanatory." Sure enough, when you load the map, you get a small, square room full of nothing but weapons and four backpacks, with the walls covered in the placeholder sky flat. But at least you can have dumb fun fragging the opposing team (for this only works in team deathmatch mode) in close quarters, which is more than you can say about the genuine Worst Death Match Maps Ever. Thus, this WAD fails at its goal and is instead the Worst Attempt to Make the Worst Death Match Map Ever. Besides, trying to make the Worst Anything Ever is like trying to win a Fastest Emasculation contest: no matter what you do, you lose. Skip this one.

    • Occult Library v1.0 - Vile1011
      Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 447941 bytes -
      Reviewed by: mouldy
      I love library maps, and this is a good one. It's not a big map, but it had enough intrigue and danger to keep me busy for a while. As with any decent spooky library, it is full of mysterious doors and false walls, and a layout that, while simple, is complex in detail overall. It is basically a central room encircled with a densely convoluted system of stairs and corridors which you much explore to find all the keys. This is complicated by the central room being so deadly as to be avoided like Medusa's gaze, until you have the weaponry to deal with it. The threads of corridors make for some interesting and unpredictable fighting as monsters negotiate it, and the author has made inventive use of the familiar textures. The unhinged architecture gives the whole map a brooding sense of madness; I particularly liked the disembodied candles floating in the darkness outside, and the reveal of the red key room.

      Difficulty is UV only, but while reasonably challenging it is never too harsh. There are some dangerous moments, but you are given enough space and weaponry to feel that any death is your own fault. A very interesting and entertaining map, worth a download.

    • The Devilz Work - DoomKid
      Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 1277485 bytes -
      Reviewed by: plums
      The Devilz Work is a wad with seven small and challenging single-player/co-op maps. DoomKid, judging by his activity here on the Doomworld forums, is typically more of a deathmatch player/mapper. However these maps are very well done, and make excellent use of space and flow, skills likely acquired from mapping for DM and put to good use here.

      As I just wrote, these are pretty difficult maps. There are skill levels, but they leave the monsters essentially untouched. Instead, you get some extra supplies on HMP, and a bunch of extra soulspheres and other power-ups on HTNR. Continuous play and pistol starts are both supported, and I find choosing to play continuously makes at least as much difference to the difficulty as the choice of skill levels. Doomkid writes that the maps progress from easiest to hardest, but I found the first three to be a fair bit harder than the rest, particularly from pistol start, as your supplies are quite limited. The monster count does steadily increase, suddenly ballooning at over 400 in MAP07, though much of those enemies end up as simply cannon fodder.

      The maps are quite small, but between the difficulty and the reuse of spaces, they feel a lot larger than they really are. The level layouts are great, and even though progression is largely linear, you really don't get the sense of being strung along. Not everything is perfect; maps 6 and 7 both use teleporters in a strange way, moving monsters back to your starting location. I get the sense that you were supposed to get assaulted from all sides, but all that happened in both cases for me was that there would be a few stragglers to pick off periodically. There are also a few bugs, mainly around secret areas - it's impossible to get 100% secrets on many maps. None of these things detract too much from the levels on the whole, though.

      The maps are vanilla-compatible, but I found that between the difficulty and the prominence of low lighting, they really benefit from using a port to get a higher resolution. The maps look good and clean, with simple detail, and good texture use and geometry. There are a few new textures, with only the sky being especially noticeable. There's also a new palette, which gives everything a bluish tint. It also changes the red pain palettes so that when you take damage, the screen fades to black and red colours instead of just solid red, letting you keep your visibility. I really liked this, but it took a bit of getting used to, and it might annoy some people.

      Similarly, there are some replaced sound effects, which might bother some. I didn't care for the shotgun/pistol sounds, but they weren't too offensive. The music on the other hand is great, with a variety of new compositions that lend themselves well to Doom. The exception being MAP05, which uses that Head Like A Hole MIDI that's been around for ages and that I don't care too much for (the MIDI version, I mean; the original is fine).

      If you don't mind maps that are a bit hard, I highly recommend checking out The Devilz Work. They're a great example of small maps that still have a lot of substance to them.

    • The Theater - 08scatman
      Doom 2 - Skulltag / Zandronum - Solo Play - 707025 bytes
      Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
      This level from 08scatman is a short level based upon a creepypasta, a term born from the recess of 4chan's /x/ board, aka the "Paranormal" section of the site, that means a creepy story of any kind, mostly ghosts (and for the most part bland, mixed up and not scary at all), demonic possessions, terrifying presences, and strange, disturbing video game (or toons, or anything childhood related) stories, like sonic.exe, Pokemon disturbing subliminal messages, Ben Drowned, Polybius and this, "The Theater".

      The story behind this game is about this mysterious game born in the same year of the first Doom, a strange adventure game in first-person perspective (like Doom) where you just go in this weird, dark theater where you're supposed to see a movie, then a scary whirling flying head appears from somewhere and makes the game crash, without leaving a second chance to be replayed...

      Said like this it doesn't even sound that scary, but check the original story and go to see some video footage of the game on YouTube and then we'll return to talking about it.

      Whatever, this remake in the Doom engine is pretty close to the original, missing only the secret to reach the said theater that projects the movie (I've seen it on a review of this story of the Italian YouTuber team "Parliamo di Videogiochi"), but talking of the level itself is... pretty bland. It's just the same corridor (with some nice new textures of the "movies" in the theater, title pictures of Doom games and its most well-known clones) that leads always to the same place, when things start to become weirder until you reach a closed hallway and you meet Mr. "killing whirling head"... not huge detailing and other eye-candies, but textures are put well and don't clash, but it is just pretty bland.

      Gameplay here is very different from the original Doom way (run, shoot stuff and take keys for open doors), but it's based upon the atmosphere and feeling effect, so yeah it is kind of scary I must say. It's not a jumpscare fest like The Ghoul's Forest 3, but it is pretty scary due to its weird and disturbing nature.

      Check it out, if you dare. It's a nice change of pace from the old Doom routine.

    • Xen Level Pack! - MatthewDoomer
      Doom 2 - Skulltag / Zandronum - Solo Play - 1418302 bytes -
      Reviewed by: lupinx-Kassman
      Xen Level Pack is a six map Doom 2 episode for Skulltag (and thus equivalently Zandronum with skulltag_actors.pk3 and skulltag_data.pk3 loaded). The description mentions seven maps, but there only appear to be six in the wad, and the game ends normally after map 6 so... oops? The story is the standard clean up the demon infestation fare.

      The mapset's theme borrows ideas from quite an eclectic mix of wads: 90s maps, Knee Deep in ZDoom, and a somewhat obscure Skulltag wad called UAC Mutation Complex. The first couple of maps start off using stock resources and sparse detailing. Afterwards the theme begins to migrate toward hyperdetail and Skulltag's darker set of textures, though personally I find the detail isn't usually used that well (as in there is heavy use of repeated wall consoles and light fixtures, and textures that don't look right when they are warped by sharp slopes). Light levels take a nose-dive after the first map, so darkness is something to quickly get used to. The areas I found the most aesthetically pleasing were the outdoor natural sections in map03 and map05, and the less visually cluttered layouts that were present in the first three maps. Some other additions to the experience include smooth weapon animations, cheesy 90s weapon sounds, and the silver status bar from the Invasion wads.

      Map navigation is quite straightforward. There are very few branching paths (with many locked doors acting as road-blocks), and only the third map has a secret area. The layouts consist of cramped corridors and small rooms for the most part, so prepare yourself for close-quarters combat. Starting at map 3, enemies and items from the Skulltag realm make their appearance (and mostly consist of dark imps and super shotgun guys). As expected, difficulty starts off tame and gradually builds up toward the end. The opposition is placed in such a way that the claustrophobic nature of the fights actually work to the episode's favor, and it was just challenging enough for me to be engaged to the end. The only eyebrow-raising moment I recall was when I stepped in a centimeter of instant death lava on map 3 that showed no hints of being instant death. Other than this, I thought the gameplay flowed pretty well throughout the levels.

      All in all, it's decent fun while it lasts, but it probably won't stick out much in your mind after you finish it. Still, I think it's worth a shot.

    • Ultratower - Mr. Chris
      Ultimate Doom - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 124917 bytes -
      Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
      This map from Mr. Chris is a larger and spacious level for the E2M8 slot (cyberdemon), and is the first of a three-level series based upon this concept. I played this map on the forums a long time ago, and this version on /idgames doesn't change that much.

      Now on to layout stuff: the map resembles a very huge, ominous old brick tower filled with creepy red lighting; you enter the door and start to climb the tower from the inside. Various traps await you, filled with monsters organized in crescent order that follows the guns put into the tower, then you reach the cyberdemon's last battle.

      Detailing is plain but nice and pretty effective, especially the tower exteriors. Gameplay is kind of difficult, but if you get the trick to avoid the traps, it is a walk in the park (it could be perfect for speedrunners). Or a walk in the tower. Anyway, monsters and items are cleverly put at the top of every "floor", so the battle results in a crescendo of epicness.

      The only bug I found is some HOM on the door of the tower.

      Check this map out, it is a pretty cool boss battle for vanilla Doom, you'll not be disappointed by this!

    • Metastasis - Wraith
      Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 417436 bytes -
      Reviewed by: cs99cjb
      Metastasis means the spread of cancer between organs of the body; ironically, something unlikely to occur in this map because none of the doors can be opened by monsters. I found it inconceivable that a map described as "ubicated in a abstract area" [sic] would be bad, and so it proved, although that word probably doesn't mean what I think it means.

      The player starts in a preparation area where they can load up with the rocket launcher, a soul sphere and combat armour before teleporting into the killzone. Obtaining these goodies straightaway caused me some trepidation, but payback arrived by a thousand cuts rather than immediately.

      The overall layout is three sprawling and independent regions joined only by a central hub in which an exit is barred by three gates, requiring three keycards. Each keycard is hidden in a different region, guarded by a spider mastermind. The player can visit the regions in any order, which gives unusual freedom of choice.

      There are many traps - often involving hordes teleporting into an empty room (sometimes repopulating it). I rather enjoyed this aspect, because there is plenty of space to dodge and retreat. All these monsters are alerted by the fight in the hub room; hearing the activation noise of a spider mastermind so near to the start is a creepy touch.

      Ammunition and armour bonuses are so abundant and health so scarce that I began to feel like I was being trolled. Finding a cache of 15 or 20 armor bonuses when desperately short of health is cold comfort. Consequently I played for long stretches with 10% or lower health, fighting archviles and worse (metaphorically) from my deathbed. I learned not to expect any reward for winning; usually the only reward is survival (and sometimes a keycard).

      Equipping the player with maximum health and armour before gradually grinding them down might be novel but it does have one major drawback: it is very hard to recover from one's mistakes, even by displaying consummate skill in subsequent battles.

      My lowest point was facing a spider mastermind and a dozen arachnotrons with 12% health. Standing in the open would have meant instant death, and I prevailed only by cowering until the monsters began fighting amongst themselves, then sprinting to an alternative place of cover.

      I don't believe it's possible to kill the horde who defend the yellow keycard. I fired everything I had and ran out of ammunition. It's better to run like hell and leave them to fight amongst themselves. I also noticed an extra cyberdemon and spider mastermind in multiplayer games. Given that cooperative play is "untested", these seem bold additions!

      Aesthetically, this map is well above average but slightly unpolished.

      Much of the architecture is on a vast scale: many indoor ceiling heights are between 7 and 12.5 metres high (the tail height of a Boeing 737). Huge metal boxes and ducts hang downward. Almost everything indoors is brown or grey - so much so that the first time I went outside I was startled by the red sky, which I mistook for a looming cacodemon. Nukeage in the hub room brings welcome variation to the palette, but it isn't painful so I wondered why the author hadn't used water instead. The apparent height of the buildings above ground level is comparable to a five-storey hotel. If the intention is to make the player feel small then it works.

      A recurring element is steep winding staircases. I liked the height variation but not the use of STEP1 as coving at ceiling height. In reality, steps are almost never mirrored on the ceiling: it would be pointless. Many strip lights are not illuminated for no obvious reason, which contributes to the "flat" look of some rooms. Conversely, the lighting is effective where it has been used to create contrast in gloomy environments. In one location, beams thrown by torches intersect a flight of stairs, but the brightness on the stairs is wrong (right sectors, wrong brightness levels). One of the lifts has wrongly-pegged textures, and some textures could be better aligned. Many crates don't have appropriately textured tops; perhaps the author assumed that the player could never overlook them, but that isn't true. I'm nitpicking, but the time saved doesn't seem worthwhile.

      I completed the map in about 34 minutes after numerous deaths. It has a lot of play value, but you'll probably need several savegames and at least twice that amount of time unless you are some kind of Doom god. I used ZDoom, and you probably need to do likewise because flats have been used as wall textures ('R_TextureNumForName: SLIME15 not found').

    • Dreamland (release 2) - Martin Bazley
      Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 78500 bytes -
      Reviewed by: Preliatus
      Dreamland is another abstract map, if that, by Martin Bazley.

      After reviewing another of his maps a night prior, I decided to tackle yet another one of his interesting maps. Supposedly this map came to him in a dream, and he mapped it.

      Booting up Zandronum.

      Instead of starting off at E1M1 like most maps, it starts at E1M3. Rather than idclev'ing to the allowed map I blazed through the two prior maps in 50 seconds flat.

      At the start of the level we're greeted by three Former Humans in a room with boxes. In the far left hand corner is a shotgun on top of a switch. A callback to E2M2's shotgun placement on a switch-controlled box (or is E2M3?). After arming up I quickly progressed through the map. If you "jump" onto the nearby raised light panel (which can be done at the end of the map, or by people who play in source ports with jumping always enabled) the nearby crates will lower, exposing the secret exit to an unchanged E1M9. Coming across a nicely designed room with accessible imps in the walls, a medium sized room with barrels gutted down the middle, and access to the map's first maze.

      The cleverly done, designed, and presented maze offers an interesting experience. Rather than running through the maze like Pac-Man covered in armaments, you're immediately greeted by various placed former sergeants within other parts of the maze shooting at you through windows in the walls. The dimly-lit red maze accompanies this. A secret or two is peppered through the maze and can be seen by misaligned textures. At the exit you're greeted by a trio of pinkies, and if you haven't taken your time to clear the maze, a side-blast from a shotgun or two.

      Finally, light! A long curved hallway is found. Immediately to your left after entering is a smaller hallway leading to a dark room with four lost souls and the red key. The red key itself is on a pillar that lowers below the floor and into the ceiling, leaving the key out of reach from players unless the self-controlling lift is at the right spot. Upon exiting a wall is raised, exposing a dark room full of enemies. Once dispatched, a teleporter to the first room can be found.

      Upon opening the red door the player is greeted by a pack of standard monsters as before, a yellow door, and a pathway with a jump leading to the real exit as well as access to the secret level. Of course the stairs to the exit are gated by the yellow key. Upon opening the door the player is greeted to a sundial conventionally placed at 2 o'clock. The door to the right is the blue door, and the door to the right is the entrance to the map's second maze.

      The second maze is interesting as tech pillars block dead ends, and it's initially filled with lost souls. After finding the blue key the entire maze becomes a crusher. Luckily for the player safe havens where some walls used to be appear, allowing the player quick passage to the start of the maze. Each platform is covered in demons, however.

      Across the clock, which now strikes 6.30, is the blue door and the yellow key. An easy trap of demons and former humans await after the right linedef is crossed. Oddly enough it has nothing to do with the yellow key pick up. The walls open, monsters come out, kill monsters, hit switch backtrack to hallway. Quickly make it up stairs towards the exit, or deviate to the right after making the jump to fly onto the raised platform in the starting room to activate the exit, or simply run forward through the door and onto the teleport.

      For what the map itself is worth, I recommend it to kill time. There is nothing here that wows in architecture, but it makes up for it in challenging gameplay and time killing. If you're looking for the next Torment and Torture or Stronghold, this isn't for you.

    • Infested Factory - Martin Bazley
      Ultimate Doom - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 75541 bytes -
      Reviewed by: Preliatus
      Long time, no review.

      Well, not an incredibly long time considering how slowly /newstuff churns out. Without ado I decided to select the weirdest wad that wasn't taken.

      Infested Factory lived up to my ideal selection for a map to review. Initially released in 2006 as stated in the readme, I was hoping for something along the terms of Void. Alas my hopes were dashed, and I was greeted with a box-y, maze-y tech base.

      The level is short, about five minutes to hammer through it, but it is rather strange. If that.

      Firstly we travel down a tech blue maze that leads to a switch, and a monster trap of sergeants, former humans, demons, and a few imps. The next chunk I vaguely remember, but I believed it had a hallway showcasing the various skies used throughout Ultimate Doom, a few zombies, and at the end is a weird crusher device that serves no point to the map.

      My favorite part of the map was after opening the red door. A simple linedef puzzle awaits. Walk over a few, and drop down a shaft into a large room filled with a handful of Lost Souls and by far the weirdest well-done staircase I've seen in a while, twisting and turning to the top of the map. Luckily if you fall off there are accessible teleporters in each corner of the room. Save for the staircase, this room is really boxy.

      With those as the standout memorable moments I did enjoy this map, despite a chunk of it feeling pointless.

      If you're a fan of surreal maps then I recommend this, or if you have 5 minutes to kill. If neither are applicable to you then pass.

    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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    Bloodshedder said:

    150 unreviewed WADs

    Losing the battle

    The Community is falling!! Oh No!!!

    Seriously though, it doesn't surprise me that more people like making WADs than writing about them. Presumably the budding writers hang out at fanfic websites, not at Doom World.

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    Seems to be a lot of people picking up reviews, holding them for a few days and then relinquishing, going by the review centre. I'm not noticing any pattern to it either, so we must just have picky reviewers. Still, what is coming out is largely well-written and comes with plenty of screen shots, so I can't complain!

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    A lot of old and very old WADs have been uploaded to the archive lately, so "/newstuff" is a bit of a misnomer. If someone somehow managed to automate the process of uploading 50 WADs from a shovelware CD then it would be Game Over for the review centre. Effectively, the current generation of reviewers are trying to keep up with the output of their forebears.

    Also, I'm not convinced that the number of reviews to be written reflects the amount of remaining work. If my brother had ever finished making his Doom episode then there'd be only one review required instead of one per map, but it would actually be more work for someone.

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    Phobus said:

    Seems to be a lot of people picking up reviews, holding them for a few days and then relinquishing, going by the review centre. I'm not noticing any pattern to it either, so we must just have picky reviewers. Still, what is coming out is largely well-written and comes with plenty of screen shots, so I can't complain!

    My pattern is usually I pick up the ones that sound interesting. I get side tracked and forget them. Only to remember them days after the claim expires.

    Or if it's a slaughter map.

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    Bloodshedder said:

    150 unreviewed WADs

    Losing the battle

    I wonder if this is because people are slowing losing interest in Doom after all this time. I will admit that I myself just returned after a long break from Doom. Though now that I think about it that actually always happens every now and then.

    I hope greater number of wads vs reviewers just means that there are more people making wads then reviewers rather then there not being enough interest in Doom anymore.

    EDIT: Also, that Jihad wad looks hilarious.

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