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    The /newstuff Chronicles #521


    • Chex(R) Quest 20th Anniversary: Galactic Conflict - Tifosi 92
      Chex Quest - SP/Co-op/DM - ZDoom Compatible - 6.76 MB -
      Reviewed by: Csonicgo
      Chex(R) Quest 20th Anniversary: Galactic Conflict is basically The Ultimate Chex. And with that, comes Episode Four difficulty. Cheap shots, overwhelming opposition, lack of ammo, weapons hidden in odd places... yeah, this episode has it all. So I guess the story is, you gotta zorch some more flemoid butt. Nothing wrong with that. Do you really need a story? It's Chex Quest, the story's as iconic as Doom itself.

      Galactic Conflict is a little more detailed than your average Chex Quest level set - but not too much. There is a liberal use of midtexture platforms, however, which may or may not eat away at your frame rate. When it comes to level design, it's a little mazey and I do feel like I backtrack a little too much, and it suffers from hallway syndrome - something I thought I'd never say again. The lack of good landmarks may be a problem here - most of them try to mimic already-known landmarks from previous levels. You'll feel a little déjà vu as you play this, if you've played the Chex Quest 3 compilation (which you should play before playing this). However I must concede that the maps are really spacious and have that late 90s TC look to them, as Chex Quest did. I do like the little touches of realism, such as signs telling me what bay I'm looking at, and tables, chairs, washrooms, beds, but no sector toilets though. You're still going to get lost at least once.

      My biggest complaint is the lack of ammo. Chex Quest is unique in that its enemies do not drop any sort of ammo upon being zorched. Demons in Doom didn't do this either, but I think my point is made - bullets and shells are important, and, in Doom, were dropped by all low-level hitscanners when taken down, and I fear that mappers' reliance on that under-appreciated fact has caused them to create Chex Quest levels that are somewhat ammo-starved. Sure enough, there were times where I ran out of zorch charges and had to resort to stabbing them all with a spoon. The modder missed a good opportunity to create an in-universe berserk replacement.

      I did find myself standing at a distance and firing my primary zorcher (pistol replacement) down a hallway until everything disappeared. I started to get bored, but soon enough the difficulty ramped up to an insane level. If you play on the UV equivalent, you're gonna have a bad time. Those who must play on NM are advised to give up now. This is because on these skill levels the projectile flemoids have been upgraded with faster-moving slimeballs, and the floating flemoid with the robotic arms has become a figurative nightmare. This dude moves so fast and erratically, and attacks with such ferocity that he can take down a healthy Chexguy in just a few seconds. Brutal little bastards. Oh, and just like Nightmare in Doom, they respawn. Shit.

      Sometimes you will scare yourself with a hidden platform, as I did multiple times - they usually lower quickly, welcoming you to the cries of angry flemoids. They share the same floor texture as the rest of the room, so be careful when throwing switches. Also look out for the rainbow squares - those are actually forcefields and will hurt you if you touch them. Most of them can be disabled with a switch, although I can see someone using these in a cruel maze setup.

      ZDoom features are used, although not for the sake of using them - just for messages, handling forcefields, slopes for sand dunes, swimmable water, just the standard stuff. You WILL need to bind a key to "swim up" and "swim down" in the options, or you won't be able to get out of the deep water.

      If a lot of areas feel the same, it's not just you. A lot of areas repeat themselves, but increase in difficulty with each room. That's a common Doom trope anyway, so I didn't even notice until like, the fourth room on one of the maps. I didn't stop playing though! Just a word of caution: you'll need to check some doors carefully - unlike Chex Quest, a few key doors aren't as obvious. Check the sides of the doors for the color key needed.

    • Weasel's Mixed Tape Vol.3 - wildweasel
      Doom 2 - SP/Co-op - ZDoom Compatible - 6.4 MB -
      Reviewed by: Csonicgo
      Weasel's Mixed Tape Vol.3 is a weapons mod.

      Oh boy, those have a mixed bag history, don't they?

      I remember the first weapons mod I ever downloaded, specifically for Quake weapons in Doom (Suprwep doesn't count). It was a DeHackEd mod, which required me to figure out how to use DOS pretty quickly in order to play. Later on, source ports showed up that let anyone load any DEH file they wanted. Then Boom showed up with BEX, which was rarely used. ZDoom showed up with this DEHSUPP functionality that allowed all kinds of crazy crap, and none of those mods work anymore. That sucks.

      And finally, DECORATE was created in one of those many many "community builds" of ZDoom, along with enemies that could change colors, abilities, and God knows what else. "OMG WEAPONS!"

      I dunno what I'm getting at, but there was a huge weapons mod fad in the 2000s, where everyone and their mother had a weapons mod that claimed to "out Immoral Conduct" Immoral Conduct, which I have not played. Ever. Mods using lasers, explosions, smarties, minute rice, plungers, whatever the author could draw (or rip) and slap together.

      Those days are long gone, and it's rare that I see a weapons mod at all anymore, especially one that doesn't play like the same old "like chaingun but faster" or "like shotgun but faster" mods that clutter the archives. This weapons mod instead does "like a gun but more damage". That feels really different than what I'm used to. It's not ammo trickery where two bullets are used instead of one - these guns actually have varying levels of power. One shot from a pistol is nothing compared to a bullet from the M1 Garand, for example. Two shotguns exist, one that emulates the SSG and the regular shotgun, to a degree. Both firing modes (oh right, there's alt-fire for a lot of these weapons, find out what they are) have intense spread. That's remedied with the "Autocannon", a semi-auto shotgun on steroids. The only problem with it is that it's less powerful. So there's a trade-off.

      And there's a vacuum cleaner in here. It sucks up barrels and launches them as projectiles. Yes, I'm serious.

      Also, a disposable camera! Except instead of a camera, it's a gun that fires lasers. Only a few exposures, so make sure each shot is worth it. And hand grenades you somehow run out of while still holding one. And an anti-tank bazooka with only one shot. And a laser cannon that only fires straight ahead, requiring you to line up directly with the target, which can be harder than it sounds, depending on how you play (I'll get to this later).

      There are "dual machetes" included. I couldn't figure out how the hell these worked, they didn't feel fun to use, they took up too much of the screen, and you can't throw them. Boooo. You only get them through cheating, so you won't see them otherwise. Other melee weapons are fists (obviously) which go Hokuto No Ken levels of fast when you pick up a berserk pack. It's fun as heck to YATATATATATATATATATATATAAAHHH imps, but given that I found it harder to gib anything using fists, I rarely bothered.

      Also included are a lot of automatic weapons, which do varying levels of damage. I assume I'm supposed to figure out which one does the most damage vs. which one does the most "stunning" to keep from being attacked. For example, firing the pistol rapidly saves ammo compared to blazing the SMG all over the place like a dumbass. Then there's the "spray n' pray" gun, the PPSh-41, which sounds like a huge fart and spits bullets in a cone. This is perfect for taking out a bunch of floating enemies trying to ruin your day - just line up with the horde and hold down the fire button. Even better - if you stand in front of an arch-vile and fire this, he flips the fuck out and forgets how to monster. I ended up using this weapon solely as my arch-vile killer.

      Oh, the BFG replacement is friggin' hilarious to use. You'll have to see it to believe it.

      All the weapons look and play their part, and are perspective correct - and very colorful, to boot. Some of the weapons that are only obtainable with cheat codes aren't so swell, but they are only available through cheating, so I can give it a pass. Animation is very smooth, and the bobbing of the weapons is "alpha-esque" - it actually looks better this way than in Vanilla Doom - a shame id changed it! The muzzle flashes are well done, and none of the guns are "in the way" - this is one of my biggest pet peeves, so to see the weapons still show an intimidating presence while not hogging valuable screen space gets all smiles from me.

      So how does it sound, anyway? Great! All the weapons sound "beefy" and match the power of the weapons. There is also a little fun sound randomizer that plays a different nostalgic sound every time you find a secret - see if you can identify them all (NO CHEATING)!

      And now I shall scold the author. Not really, but this needs to be stated - this weapons mod is designed for players that keep +mlook switched on at all times. Some of you might be reeling at this, and for good reason - no weapons mod should force a style of play that ruins the player's controls. Additionally, I like to do subtle movements forward and backward with the mouse to navigate thin passageways like The Chasm, and this mod doesn't play well in those situations.

      Basically, there is recoil. The recoil varies based on the weapon, which eventually, if I held down fire long enough, I was staring directly at the ceiling. Luckily, I found a way to turn this nonsense off - Go to Options - Gameplay Options - Allow Freelook - Turn that OFF. Now you'll never have to worry about the recoil nonsense if you play traditionally. Of course, this also creates another problem - the Tri-Laser Cannon becomes much harder to use. This weapon does NOT auto-aim, which means if you play without freelook, you'll have to get on the monster's level to attack them, so to speak. This is alright down hallways and across rooms with little height variation, but with cacodemons, unless you're lined up height-wise, you're just wasting ammo and time. I eventually figured out when and where I could use it, and honestly, that was the best choice, since I was forced to conserve its ammo. There isn't much ammo for the weapon lying around, so you gotta make every shot count.

      It hasn't been tested for deathmatch, which means that it'll likely be friggin' hilarious in how unbalanced the weapons are. Probably good for a few laughs.

      Final verdict: It's aight. Play it.

    • Interloper - Notlea
      Doom 2 - Single Player - ZDoom Compatible - 1.31 MB -
      Reviewed by: Ofisil
      Interloper by Notlea is a five-level wad, supposedly inspired by the new DOOM - it isn't, though. Besides a tiny section in MAP04 that's very similar to the BFG storage facility from the 2016 title, the rest never feels like it bears any resemblance to it; first, because of the overall structure; second, because of Doom II's stock textures; and third, because of the gameplay. In other words, and while this is well-designed, with some nice detailing all around, this is pretty standard, old-school Doom stuff: find the keys, kill the baddies, and so on.

      In that regard, is it good? Well, for starters it's somewhat easy, with lots of space to move, not very threatening enemy placement or clever ambushes, and lots of ammo (especially when getting close to the last Arena-like map), and, generally, a level design that makes it easy to bypass confrontations and just go for the key/door/switch/exit. Therefore, be sure to play it in UV (as the author states that it was meant to be played so). Overall, it's not bad or anything, but the fun will only last an hour or so, which is the amount of time needed to reach the finishing line. Better try it out with a couple of mods.

    • The Journey - hervoheebo
      Doom 2 - Single Player - Limit Removing - 3.21 MB -
      Reviewed by: Ofisil
      The Journey is a 32-level MegaWad that plays out as a series of "connected" maps, so, this one truly feels like... well, a journey, something that I personally love. Furthermore, and maybe due to this factor, the levels have a nice difficulty curve; therefore, expect each map being a little harder than the previous one. Additionally, the author is one of the few exceptions (in my experience, at least), of those who pay attention to a little thing called "Balance." No level but the last one needs more than 8-10 minutes, the enemy count rarely gets higher than 100, and the ammo is reasonably abundant in continuous play, and tough but doable when at pistol start (by the way, while I generally prefer continuous play, many levels are simply awesome at pistol start).

      Gameplay-wise, it's a pretty fun wad, one that I would gladly revisit more than once, just don't expect anything fancy; it's just Doom II all over again, with a small innovation and new texture here and there. Note that, in terms of design, this has been divided between three separate styles. Furthermore, most levels - successfully - try to look like "real places," although most retain the abstract structure that made the Doom games so great. Now, here's a brief summary of the levels at hand:

      Chapter 1:
      Map01 is a tiny, insignificant map; 02-04 offer some nice, simple, straightforward fun, and, for some strange reason, feature some out-of-place happy rock tunes, apart from the fourth that uses W3D's "Zero Hour" instead of Doom II's "The Focus". Map05 is a nice, "raise platforms to proceed" one; Map06, and 08, are nothing special, but the one between them is one of the best available: a nice small dungeon with danger lurking in every corner. 09 is a boring Grand Canyon level, with falling down requiring spending a minute go back up again; 10 is an equally boring and long-ish temple, where the gunplay feels like it's there just to be there (no clever enemy placement). Finally, 11 is a straightforward "find the keys" one, with a Cyberdemon in the center of all the fun.

      Chapter 2:
      From 12 to 18, maps tend to be more claustrophobic, maybe because they take place in city streets, sewers, industrial zones, and hi-tech bases. Some of them have a nice atmosphere, like the very dark 12 and 14, or the train station of Map16 which uses a simple but effective rain effect. Map 19 is a fun arena with lots of Barons, Knights and Spiders; and, finally, Map20 is another industrial level with an exit that's harder to find than the actual secrets.

      Chapter 3:
      Map21 is simple yet tough castle with a pitch-black sky; 22 has nothing worthy of mention; 23 is pleasantly stingy with the medikits/unpleasantly stingy with the light; and, like the "Grand Canyon" level, 24 is a boring key search-a-thon, where falling down requires retracing your steps. 25 is another straightforward map with nothing special to say about it; 26 has a nice "inside the machine" kind of vibe, but in terms of gameplay it's more of the same. That also applies to Map27, although it adds some lava areas that require being fast with the radiation suits; 28 is another tough but simple map; and 29 is a great level, which has an "endless stairs" kind of feel - as if you are climbing from the depths of hell to the tip of a mountain. Level 30 is a gargantuan arena with PLENTY of things to shoot, with the purpose being to find the "heart" of the beast and end it all - great, but also the return of the unfitting music themes.

    • ECHELON - Sverre Andre Kvernmo
      Doom 2 - Single Player - ZDoom - 7.34 MB -
      Reviewed by: gaspe
      Sverre Kvernmo is a very old member of the community, and also a rather "historical" one. A few of his levels were included to make The Master Levels, he made some gorgeous contributions to Eternal Doom, and after more than 15 years of absence he returned in 2013 with Plasmaplant. I would like to make a little premise, and it's something similar to what I said in my review of Endpoint (the latest release of Eternal); this isn't something that can be really compared with the previous works from this author.

      Echelon is a ZDoom megawad with 30 levels. This initially started as a megawad project where every map was supposed to be completable within the matching PAR time set in Doom 2, though it seems that the idea was revealed to be too hard to be implemented, and the project evolved into what is Echelon now. The original idea somehow remained in the final project; all of the maps are really short, and to complete all the megawad it won't take you too much time. The core thing in Echelon though is the story. Actually the plot is the same as Doom 2, but the progression of the levels accompanied with intermission texts between every map sets the original course of Echelon.

      The levels are all very small, and also very beautiful. They don't feature very complex architecture and tons of sector for borders and trim, but instead they rely on small and unique traits to detail and give character to the various locations. There's also a set of new textures made for this wad, along with some cool graffiti used in the city levels, and you may also recognize some old friends from Eternal Doom. Being very small the maps have also small amounts of monsters in them, and Sverre knows to make them also rather challenging if you pistol start the levels. The various monster are mixed well, with large use of hitscanners. In addition to the usual bestiary there are three new enemies: the viper which is a serpentine demon armed with a sort of flamethrower, which also explodes when it dies. And the others are two flying monsters: the fiend and the mind fiend; one is a recolor of the other, and they both spawn some health/armor bonuses when killed. They made many encounters very interesting with their behavior.

      The thing that doesn't work well is how the story was told, and the initial stages of the wad, that are rather underwhelming. The texts of the end of the chapters (MAP07, MAP11, MAP21) are the same as Doom 2; they match well with the new story, but having text at the end of every map feels very clunky. I admit that when I started to play this I was very perplexed and wasn't really sure if I would continue past the first few maps. To be honest I can't blame someone if they drop this after four maps. This wad takes a while to pick up, but from MAP06 you start to see more substance. The introduction to this journey makes sense in the big picture, but it isn't compelling.

      That said, I really enjoyed this wad; it provides an unique experience, and it's interesting how it uses its story, though without being free from some problems. Even with an unsure start, this wad has plenty of things worth seeing; I recommend trying this at least once for sure.

    • Countdown to Core - Topi Hattukangas
      Doom 2 - Single Player - ZDoom Compatible - 1.11 MB -
      Reviewed by: gaspe
      Countdown to Core is a megawad with 19 levels. It requires ZDoom to be played; the levels use a bit of scripting for simple things sometimes, but don't expect to see other features. The overall look is of the average amateur mapper, but at least the levels don't have ugly texture combos or blatant misalignments. The wad can be summarized as a set of cramped maps with very little ammo. The first few levels seem like they were deliberately made to disgust the player with their focus on pistol action, and I'm not even sure if those levels are actually playable. If you really want to play this wad, skip to MAP06 and play until MAP12. It's the best part of the wad, even though it's average at best. The last levels look like unfinished maps from a scrapped project. Nothing really worth to be seen in this wad; spare your time for something else.

    The /newstuff Chronicles is a usually-weekly roundup of new items uploaded to the /idgames archive, and it is written entirely by community members like you. If you wish to contribute, the /newstuff Review Center is the place to do so. Register on the Doomworld Forums first if you don't already have an account, because you need one to submit reviews. Special thanks goes to the nearly 300 users who have submitted reviews over the past several years.

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    fp! props to all... ah, fuck it.

    Echelon looks real good, have to play it when I get a chance.

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    Echelon and The Journey are pretty charming little megawads, Mixed Tape i'll wanted to play it, but only when i have some time where i don't browse DeviantArt for ages...

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    Thank you for the thorough review of Mixed Tape 3. As much as I understand the distaste for the mod forcing a specific play style, it's one of those things that just would have required too much effort from me to address (similarly with the Tri-Laser's lack of auto-aim, which is apparently a ZDoom limitation, as railgun attacks don't work with auto-aim for some reason, last I recall?).

    Whatever the case, though, I'm glad a work-around was found, and that it seems that you did enjoy the mod, all things considered.

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    WildWeasel said:

    Thank you for the thorough review of Mixed Tape 3. As much as I understand the distaste for the mod forcing a specific play style, it's one of those things that just would have required too much effort from me to address (similarly with the Tri-Laser's lack of auto-aim, which is apparently a ZDoom limitation, as railgun attacks don't work with auto-aim for some reason, last I recall?).

    Whatever the case, though, I'm glad a work-around was found, and that it seems that you did enjoy the mod, all things considered.

    I'm very shocked that the RAIL attack still doesn't have any sort of autoaiming property. I know it never did in the games they came from, but this is Doom, so it's just.. odd. Now that I know it's a limitation of the port, apologies for that part. :P

    Now to bother Graf about this...

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