Morgenstern - Nicholas "Tiger" Gautier
Doom 2 - Deathmatch - GZDoom - 13.97 MB -
Reviewed by: Fonze
"Morgenstern: imagine if gothic99 was made in 2017" - infurnus - 2017
"In principle he was right to use GZDoom to expand Doom DM's stale game play with GZDoom features (included weapon alteration) but also featured things Zan didn't (and doesn't) support at the time. Problem was he was so headstrong about it he forgot GZDoom has all of 0 D "This is what happens when you don't seem to understand the fundamentals of DM of either game you are trying to replicate (Doom and Quake).
"A confused mapset that only looks good in OpenGL or GZDoom that requires a strong computer to run smoothly with 1 player, never mind DM audiences." - Decay - 2017
"Morgenstern" is an "18"-map (17 if you discount the "eyecandy" aka "inordinate extra stuff to lag even more" version of MAP04, which is otherwise the same map. 14 if you discount the 3 "rejected" maps. 13 if you forget about the shoot.wad remake. And 9 if you ditch the tgrdm2 maps. 4 "small" maps, 4 "medium" maps, 1 "large" map for 9 total) DM/Domination PK3 built for GZDoom 2.2 and tested a bit with Zandronum 3.0. This stunningly gorgeous mapset features maps for matches of all sizes. Unfortunately, that also means that most maps will not fit into most events, unless your server has player numbers which fluctuate often. When you build a DM mapset, all maps should be for the same number of people, unless you expect people to only DM on one or two maps the whole time. Aside from a select few, these maps are all oversized even for their intended player-base. Some of the "medium" maps take a good 10-15 seconds to run from one side of the map to the other, though to be fair there are portal-teleports in most maps. The "large" map is just comically sized.
Some of these maps are tgrdm2 maps, and the quality of the maps as a whole, even on the aesthetic side, is all over the place, with some maps looking a bit... vanilla. Maps should look at least somewhat uniform in terms of their detailing; some of these maps could have been vanilla-compatible, and not in a good way. Even many pretty spots were fairly simplistic architecturally, meaning that it is mostly the eyecandy-type stuff that these maps show off. That said, lag and performance issues should be deeply considered when making any map, but especially a DM map which involves a competitive nature and pits people against other, very fast-moving people. "Inordinate" is the perfect word for many maps in this wad. "Not within proper or reasonable limits."
On the note of performance issues: void space (the space where no sector is in-between the back sides of 1-sided lines) is needed to cut off rendering many special effects, such as 3D floors. Some of these maps have areas that are multi-storied, with different layouts for the top and bottom. This means that there is no void space in these areas, and seemingly simple-looking areas will lag, which is terrible for DM. MAP01 of this PK3 has a series of tight hallways which curiously cause fps lag due to this.
Shoot.wad doesn't need a redux.
"The map layouts are bland." Those words were said to me by several Doomers that DM and whom I respect, and the more time I spent in these maps the more I found I agreed. Some maps seem to have potential; indeed the truly beautiful maps are fun to DM in even just for the fact that they look so damn good, but unless both you and your buddy have either machines more powerful than mine or the patience of saints, you will not have a long session. Oh, and multiply that for every additional player; most of these maps (especially the ones worth playing) are clearly meant for 8+ players.
Despite using 3D floors in a way which actually directly affects gameplay (which is nice), the areas created are often not very interesting, such as tight, flat hallways with many corners that eat up time as you run around searching for the only other player. Most of these maps are generally room-corridor gameplay, and some have vast, oversized areas that favor the beefed-up chaingun.
"Thing" placement, especially powerups, is just totally "WTF" in many places. Prime example: the "large" map has a megasphere just sitting there down a little hallway, offshot from a huge room in the corner of the overall map and in a fairly inconspicuous spot with fairly decent cover, aside from people who can see directly down the hallway. Soooo... camp that spot and never die? Sounds like a plan to me; the endless shells and other ammo nearby will keep you supplied. To be fair, in a domination match this megasphere would be far less useful, but controlling it would still allow even just one person to control a domination point from 3 or 4 people who have nothing but 100/0, or maybe 100/100 if they got a green armor. There are other big powerups in the level, but those would be next to other domination points and not useful for ones over here, due to the level's sheer size. This isn't the only "strangely placed" thing, either, just a really good example. To be fair though, I like that many of these maps were generous with SSG pickups, which is nice when the opponent just grabbed that randomly placed blue armor after fragging you.
Something I think is really important to note with newschool-designed maps, and maybe some other DMers may disagree with me on this, but aside from general aiming NS matches are all about controlling the main powerups in order to run the map, with a bit less focus on controlling areas, as opposed to oldschool where items do not respawn and therefore control is all about sector denial and crowd control. A map which allows players to be vastly overcharged on a continuous basis is going to make matches more lop-sided, with momentum being an even bigger factor than in an OS match. NS maps are supposed to be designed with item respawn accounted for, meaning that you probably should not allow a player to get overcharged and kill the other player repeatedly while running around grabbing health in-between kills, always getting back up to 100/200 or higher. Item respawn isn't the problem; having more than 100% in health pickups (stimpacks, medikits), is. I'm not a particularly good DMer, (though I have been coined a "rocket spammer," heh) but I ran MAP01 of this PK3 on a couple of people simply from just controlling the blue armor and running around grabbing health kits and ammo; I rarely ran out when I wanted to. It got to the point that I had to stop grabbing the blue armor, health, and ammo just to have fun... Playing down for people because of an unbalanced map; that's pathetic, but again some of that comes down to the obtuse "thing" placement.
Some weapons have been rebalanced and others replaced. There is no BFG in these maps, but there is a grenade launcher and a railgun. Some of these levels start you with a CG+SSG while others only start you with a chaingun; something kind of weird/inconsistent to note.
Jump pads, particle effects, "thing"-based fog, 3D slopes, transparent/reflective surfaces (walls/floors), scaled textures, legit rain, 3D models, dynamic lights, smooth weapon animations, additional player sprites to show what weapon people are using, and more all are present in these maps. As I said, some of these maps are just truly beautiful works of art! I have to wonder if this mapset will be redeemed to a very small degree in the future when more people have machines that won't blink twice at these maps, though of course the layouts, powerups, and other things will never get any better. Still, a lot of effort and time was put into making these things "advanced" and pretty, which shows!
Aesthetically, most of these maps are awesome, though perhaps a bit too much-so given that beauty in many of these maps leans on the back of FPS-taxing special effects. MAP01 has a nice example of both the pluses and minuses of one particular feature: scaled textures. On one hand, some of the SUPPORT3 trims looked just awesome being so finely pixelated, (which makes me wonder in awe the usefulness of such a feature) but on the other hand there were 'dirt-ish' flats that were also scaled for no real particular reason. Going on about pixels, the skies were mostly all animated, even the ones you can't really see without hovering around in spectator mode waiting for players; well, gotta have something to keep people entertained while they wait, I guess. While this was a cool effect, in particular on the skies where you could see the clouds stretch off into the horizon, slowly moving from their creation-point, past you, and onwards to the place where they cease to exist; those same skies often looked exceptionally terrible directly above the player, as the pixels were supersized monstrosities.
So what, should you check out these maps? I think so, if nothing else just to see how nice they look. Good examples of what not to do in a DM map, though by the same token, unlike many DM maps which fail to get a foothold on regular players at first and forever fade away, awaiting luck in a future random compilation, these maps will continue to stand out just for their looks. So what did this mapset do right, after all this wrong? Tiger made a mapset which fulfilled a niche, previously under-decorated with only a select few other really beautiful mapsets that fully utilize GZDoom/Zandronum's vast features to create such a rich and unique aesthetic. However, good luck finding somebody else to play with. Some of you may not even be able to open these maps up and see them without buying a new machine. Many of you will find the frame rate on the "eyecandy" map to be nothing short of comical and some may even call the inordinateness of that map "trolling," (such as the huge number of "fog" "things") but on the off-chance you have two really sweet gaming PCs, or have a nice circle of Doom-friends all with good gaming PCs, you might be able to get some decent matches out of a couple of these maps. I would say cut them out and throw them in your custom compilation, but there would be a lot of crap to sift through and the layouts aren't really that great for particularly interesting matches, so even then it'll likely become just a one-off, but it'll be a good time while it lasts if you stick to the really pretty ones and enjoy the sights more than the frags. Give it a shot :)
The Crystal Maze (GZDoom edition) - Stephen Clark (The Ultimate DooMer)
Doom 2 - Single Player - GZDoom - 20.56 MB -
Reviewed by: geo
The Crystal Maze is based on a British game show, but since this is for Doom, it is a series of puzzles and challenges. From the start, you select from one of four locales and the order you'd like to tackle them. On the surface, each of these locales acts as a hub with eight challenges. Each challenge is timed and labeled skill, mystery, and so on.
If the time runs out or you perish, you're thrown in that locale's dungeon where you're given a crystal to open the door so you can continue playing. I can tell the work and effort that went into this, as it pulls in different textures and sound effects to make the game feel special.
These challenges feel like miniature levels on their own with enemies here and there with great use of lighting and other effects. Lava bubbles pop and spew out, doors open as they would in real life rather than up and down. There are humble ways of making platforms simulate boats that move across a small pond. There are ramps and water to dive into. The game feels truly 3D compared to 99% of anything else in Doom.
Even if its a GZDoom level, it feels like its own game. Its an interesting concept and the author does a lot to make the Crystal Maze feel far different than any other Doom WAD out there. In practice it seems involved to get into. The game does a well enough job of explaining everything, but I think to truly feel the joy of this map you need to be a fan of the show.
Some areas were a bit too dark to see, others were confusing as to what to do, but that's all part of the challenge. If you're up for something fresh, this is for you, but if you just want a map to kill things, then avoid it.
TEMPLE OF SPIDER - Big Memka
Doom 2 - Single Player - GZDoom - 846.83 KB -
Reviewed by: geo
Temple of the Spider is a big map with a lot of extremes and very little in between. It has both a cityscape and a rocky cavern. Its external area is well lit, while its internal areas are so dark that it's a detriment. It is both flat and high up with steep steps to get between the two heights.
With a name like Temple of the Spider, I was expecting more... spiders. The external areas are guarded by typical imps, knights, cacos, soldiers and everything every other Doom map has in abundance. The interior had barons and mancubuses with a mere shotgun to dispatch them. There were boxes of rockets hinting at the possibility of a rocket launcher within.
It's the height difference that made the map stand out. There are a lot of tall walls with enemies lurking complete with staircases to get up to them and paths to jump over from one wall to the next. I assume this was meant for GZDOOM considering there was a river without an exit except for jumping.
On the downside, it was a chore trudging through the dark. I tried to stand in the light and snipe into the dark, but eventually I had to be drawn in. I was shooting blindly hoping to hear a groan in the dark or that I will find another hazmat suit to change the tint of the darkness so I can see. Sometimes I'd get lucky to see a shadow in front of a torch, while other times they were behind the candle... shooting at me and laughing. Perhaps I needed a different light map pack, but some areas like the caverns have no light source.
There was a distinct lack of both armor and ammunition. Even conserving the ammo, there were issues. Perhaps if I could see the ammunition dropped from dead enemies it would have been helpful, then again... all it takes is me running over the ammo. Try as I might I humped all the walls looking for hidden secrets, and if there are any... they're just too hidden and I wasn't humping hard enough.
To the map's credit there was attention to detail, roads were lined, edges had bits taken out. The cavernous sections felt enjoyably craggy to traverse. There was even a nice little blood spider in the ground toward the beginning of the temple.
I still liked the map, and it's not very often you get to see a temple in a city that's next to a cavern. It just was a struggle to enjoy the map due to the extremes.
Test Subject 43 - Paul Dechene
Doom 2 - Single Player - GZDoom - 1.46 MB -
Reviewed by: geo
Test Subject 43 is a fantastic series of six levels. They are each humble, yet grand. They do so much with so little and lavish them in detail and extravagance. A simple tech base is turned into a real, believable building done on a big scale. Large hallways, massive rooms seeping with enemies, holes in the walls to snipe at them. The hallways are full of cover and bathed in enemies. It's all clean, pristine, and a great use of detail. It's so good, enjoyable, simple, dangerous and deadly.
The amazing thing is the developer claims it's his first attempt at map making. Well the map maker is a natural... or a boldface liar. Whichever is good.
The first and second level are both humble beginnings. You have a pistol and a shotgun for the first level as you take on former humans and sergeants. So there are plenty of hitscan enemies covering every corridor. To compensate, there is cover everywhere with notches in walls, boxes, catwalks, and so on.
The level pack divvies out weapons bit by bit, and a super shotgun or a chaingun in the second level feel like a treasure among a hall of the undead. Even facing off against chaingunners in the first level will not earn you their weapons.
By the end of the second level, the pack amps it up as all hell breaks loose... literally. Imps, demons, Mancubuses, barons, knights and cacos get seen for the first time as they pour through a portal. It's a great sight after trudging through hallways of former soldiers.
With all the good out of the way, it's time to get to the issues: lack of health and armor. When health is found there is a lot of health around and usually in logical places, as this is a mod that mimics what a real complex could be. Perhaps I should have tried to find more secrets than jumping over things.
It's an enjoyable experience, but with so many hitscan enemies in the early going, it forces every situation to be cat and mouse. To the pack's credit there are plenty of opportunities to flank your enemies, such as multiple doorways, or giant pillars to go around.
The first two levels took me 30 minutes of killing 1,500 enemies, so this is an excessive set of maps for better or worse.
Another credit I will give the pack is a lot of mundane areas are spiced up with detail. These areas are punctuated with a touch of 60s or 70s sci-fi vision with select rooms. They break up the monotony of seeing giant command centers focused on one doorway, dark walled tunnels with sparse lights from the walls. It's a beautiful sight that makes things feel almost cinematic beyond what could be considered typical for a Doom base.
This pack with a deceptively simple name of Test Subject 43 is well worth anyone's time to play. Unless you have issues with hit scan enemies...
final doom return of the evil god - ron
Doom 2 - Single Player - GZDoom - 4.01 MB -
Reviewed by: geo
First impressions are a doozy, and this pack of 32 levels is a door slam in the face when you first begin. The exteriors are just so bland, uninspired and reminiscent of 1995, before there were amazing tools to create incredible masterpieces. Beyond the first impression, what's here in "Final Doom Return of the Evil God," is quite enjoyable and well balanced. There is plenty of health, plenty of ammo, plenty of big fights, enemies, wide open areas and cluster phobic hallways. It's a mixed bag of mostly good and some bad that still ultimately feels like 1995.
Despite the first impression of some of the worst mapping ever, you can still tell that effort was put into the game. There is a title screen, custom GUI, custom map titles, a green key instead of a yellow (color blind people love red and green, right?), different sound effects, window textures, and text labels for areas like dormitory, room names, and so on. It helps wash out the bad taste and show there's hope for this series of levels for those who chose to delve deeper. Later on the developer flexes ingenuity, as there are good moments of enemies appearing in front of easy switches and conveyors pulling boxes.
Another problem with that first impression is the fact that early on, the water depth didn't work for me, but perhaps it was just your typical hall of mirrors or maybe I wasn't using the right source port. The first level and others have sets of narrow corridors with no room to strafe, which many can have a problem with. There are hole textures in the walls that are easy to miss, so I was using a map early on to find what I needed to.
It should be noted that in the early going, there is a homage to the Master Level "Black Tower." It manages to have a fresh challenge while feeling familiar. It's quite the labyrinth interior with glimmers of memorable rooms. The second level has you in a small open city hunting through building after building, which breaks up your average map quite well.
As I touched on before, the exteriors are empty, vacant, and devoid of detail, and it's a detriment to the entire package. Having built up rock formations along the exterior walls would help; bridges with water beneath would also go a long way. Perhaps this set of levels was meant for vanilla Doom with extra frills like conveyor belts. The interiors are realistic and several are cramped. Some are so cramped that the revenants are taller than the rooms themselves.
Certain maps here can be quite cryptic, and I feel lucky to know well enough to never back track unless there are new enemies. Such as the black tower, climbing to an exterior and knowing to recognize the faces of marble pillars were different than they should be. If I had somehow been stumped and back tracked down the tower, I could be lost forever. It might be best to trap the player in the cryptic area until they solve the puzzle. If you are meant to backtrack, the levels know to open doors and release enemies so you know that you're still progressing.
In terms of challenge, it's much easier than other wads, and perhaps more enjoyable because of that. You'll get a dose of just about every enemy other than bosses on every map. Turning a corner can occasionally lead to an archvile ,as if finding a man using the john! Sorry sir. I didn't smell you there. The beauty of these archviles is they're more generic enemies due to the surroundings rather than threats that resurrect an army.
It's worth anyone's time to give this level pack a try. You'll get to see both the worst and best any map can have to offer.
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Edited by Bloodshedder