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    The /newstuff Chronicles #537

    • Pizza Steve - Fernando Sanchez M.
      Doom 2 - Single Player - Boom Compatible - 2.9 MB - screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif
      Reviewed by: rdwpa
      Some slaughtermaps are at the zenith of cerebral play in Doom, forcing you to puzzle out specific strategies and execute them with precision in order to prevail. Some slaughtermaps give you powerful weapons and lots of megaspheres and offer you mindless no-strings-attached fun as you spam your way through hordes. There are plenty of good slaughtersets out there in either idiom.

      Pizza Steve is not one of them.

      Playing through this set -- with a willingness to IDCLEV or IDCLIP when faced with tedium, such as chaingunning door-with-health cyberdemons in maps with hardly any cell ammo -- I could feel the outlines of a fun monster spammy offering. I really could feel it. But for every enjoyable fight or two, you have to endure a spell of head-scratching tedium. Hallways lined with cyberdemons you don't have the ammo for. Mixed hordes that clog up at fast doors, forcing you to wait, rapidly opening and closing the door, until they infight themselves to death. Thresholds packed with revenants that exist solely to keep you from blitzing through the map, forcing you instead to pluck off every single cyber turret. Pizza Steve has a terrible habit of being quite stingy with the actual good weapons, especially in the earlier stages of maps. This often ruins what would have been decently fun spamfests in any other set. Instead, threshold camping and general slogginess become the order of the day.

      What I find fascinating about this set is that it clearly took some effort to make -- there are 32 maps, some of them quite expansive, none too pretty or highly detailed but most more sophisticated than monotextured Startan rooms. Yet as was mentioned during a discussion of the set, it feels like Pizza Steve was made "in a vacuum", devoid of any external feedback, devoid of anything even resembling thorough testing. It's as if the author hunkered down for a year and just made maps, without any thought of anyone but him playing them. More power to him, but the results are self-explanatory.

      If you are willing to hunt around with IDCLEV, you'll find some playable maps -- even a broken map design algorithm is right twice a year, or however the expression goes. The set also has merit as a sandbox for overpowered weapons mods and similar gameplay supplements. But overall, it's more bad than good, and unless poor design holds an intrinsic appeal for you, it's worth skipping in favor of basically any other set of slaughtermaps.
    • UAC Doom - Part 2 - Laus
      Doom 2 - Single Player - ZDoom Compatible - 428.99 KB - screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif
      Reviewed by: rdwpa
      Despite requiring ZDoom, Laus's second map looks and plays like something straight out of 1996. The indoor areas are a network of humbly sized rooms and cramped corridors, each made primarily of a single texture, with occasional wild theme shifts from one room to another. The gameplay mostly involves shooting stuff in front of you. Technical design is far from a strong point; texture misalignments are common, and in one area walls bleed into the sky when viewed from certain angles. So if you are looking for polish or modern gameplay, this is not for you. If you want a map unencumbered by modern tropes, reminiscent of a time before communal notions of what is considered "good design", or if you like shooting stuff with the single shotgun -- or if your name is Memfis -- this is for you.

      I played this map twice. Once right before bedtime (the gameplay accelerated the process), once the next day for the review. The one thing I wish I hadn't uncovered is the last secret: a room of dated memes displayed in large custom textures, a deliberate eyesore, unfunny, Terry-like in vibe. It's not malicious but it's pretty dumb. A shame, because otherwise the secrets would be a small selling point of the map. (And still are... if you are twelve.)

      Note: Jumping can break progression. The silly secret aside, this is a classic map that just happens to need ZDoom because ZDoom was what the author was familiar with.
    • Saturnine Chapel (MNENMA 0) - dobu gabu maru
      Doom 2 - Single Player - Boom Compatible - 1.79 MB - screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif
      Reviewed by: rdwpa
      Dobu Gabu Maru is one of the most uncompromising mappers of our time. He's an artiste-slash-dominatrix -- think Ribbiks, or a much crueler Mouldy -- whose primary goal is to raise your death count astronomically high, but who is also kind enough to treat you to awe-inspiring sights as it soars. Saturnine Chapel is an aesthetic marvel. The opening shot depicts the chapel looming in the distance in a wild realm of twisted metal and torrential slimefall, and from here onwards, everywhere you look you'll be privy to painstakingly assembled lighting effects and Doom 2's stock textures used in creative, surprising ways. People often talk about "sense of place", but Dobu's maps go many steps further, bringing along their own sense of mythology. As the lore goes, the Saturnine Chapel itself was made out of books. Dobu himself explains that "the chapel wasn't built to be used, it was built because the vile books had willed it to be, completely independent of any observer, curator, or architect".

      Pretty as it is, Saturnine Chapel is a vicious mistress, a tough map even by Dobu's standards of cruelty. Movement space is at a serious premium, and resources are balanced precariously, leaving you next to no room for waste or substandard usage. Fights on "Hard" (the UV equivalent) openly embrace RNG -- in a few, bad luck with monster movement will result in a quick death with anything short of TAS-quality play. But in line with a growing trend (see Stardate 20x7, for example), "Hard" is not the intended difficulty. According to the text file, "Normal" (the HMP equivalent) is. I'd venture that roughly 99.5% of players would enjoy this most on either "Easy" (skill 2) or "Normal" (skill 3) and should actually listen to the text file. For most players on skill 4, savescumming will run into a wall. "Normal" is already substantially tougher than most contemporary maps on UV, enough to satisfy all but the most intense spells of bloodlust.
    • The Red Line - Didy
      Doom 2 - Single Player - Limit Removing - 4.07 MB - screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif
      Reviewed by: Csonicgo
      Finding mappers who take advantage of the Doom engine to make stunning abstract visuals, while not going overboard, is pretty much impossible. Then Didy came along and released Bauhaus. Thankfully, Didy is not a one hit wonder, and has released The Red Line: another set of maps that are just as much fun to look at as they are to play.

      Each map is focused around a particular weapon or gimmick of the Doom engine. Not as involved as Cyber Dreams, The Red Line focuses on mastery of each Doom weapon, provoking infighting, corralling monsters, and then using the environment to kill them. For example, MAP01 (called The Crusher for obvious reasons) requires the player to lure monsters into crushers - yes! It's not encouraged, it's required!

      Upon starting this map, I realized quickly how rusty I was with regards to the melee weapons. The Red Line demands the player to be proficient with all weapons, in all situations. Remember chaingun sniping, silent BFG tricks, and monster pain chances? If you don't, you're going to have a tough time here. As the maps progress, you are to use stronger weapons, and the difficulty keeps pace. I must admit I couldn't finish on UV. You must fight to get the weapon the map is named after - usually.

      But damn, these maps are gorgeous. It's as if Didy himself built these structures manually, brick by brick, panel by panel. I've missed seeing detail like this, and I hope it makes a comeback, without the Christmas and the light flares.

      If you are playing this on a port that uses vanilla code, or a hacked vanilla executable, I'm sorry to say that you will start to "stick" to some walls, and a few hallways straddle the blockmap lines so your shots will go right through some of the monsters. This is unfortunate, but due to that ever-so-weird artifact of having a lot of detail in a small space, one of the things that doomed some of Greenwar 2 to ZDoom 2.x-based ports only, I cannot recommend playing this in anything but a relatively recent (G)ZDoom.

      But please do play it, just don't expect weapon mods to play well with it.
    • CoolMapForContext - Bonfac
      Doom 2 - Single Player - ZDoom Compatible - 169.04 KB - screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif
      Reviewed by: MysteriousHaruko
      "CoolMapForContext" is the second wad by Bonfac, and this map was meant for the 2016 Vinesauce mapping contest. I played it in GZDoom on medium skill.

      Gameplay was simple most of the time. Monster count is minimal in both maps and they're not challenging, except in the last area of Map02 due to a cyberdemon and some barons of hell, but even this becomes easy with some clever infighting, an invulnerability sphere which you can pick up at any moment, and all the ammo at your disposal. In map01, a large portion of map is skippable. In map02, the first invulnerability sphere was worthless and forced, because the monsters weren't as threatening as they would be in larger groups.

      I disliked the idea of player blocking lines at the edges; I believe that players should fall free, even if the fall will telefrag them to shreds or have teleporters around. Instant walk only-once linedefs were annoying too, for example in map02. This "instant only-once action floor goes up walkable linedef action with blue key" can lock the progress for the player, forcing you to do the noclip cheat. Most of the demon teleports were made through the easiest kind of scripts. Also, the autosave function was very unnecessary and pointless. If I talk about important items like health, ammo, armor bonuses, he didn't place them much, and in some critical places I ran out of ammo and I couldn't heal myself after a fight.

      The visual side of this mapset. First of all, I liked the foggy outside areas; they give an interesting and mysterious vibe, but the fog effect in inside areas wasn't so good. I noticed lots of misalignments and some unchanged textures provided automatically by Doom Builder 2. Sky viewpoints were way too close to windows and to the player's viewpoint. I think putting a new sky (probably one that blends well with the fog outside) and the linedef action "Line_Horizon" with the same fog effect would be more efficient. Sky viewpoints are mostly visible with the first invulnerability sphere effect at the outside area in map02. The main wad layout is linear, nothing special.

      Music in both maps are default, in my opinion, wad would be more interesting with custom music. This wad is weaker than "MyFirstUpload", mainly because this mapset feels rushed and untested before this was submitted for that contest and to /idgames.
    • Puzzle of Doom - CrazyDoomguy
      Doom 2 - Single Player - Boom Compatible - 71.33 KB - screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif
      Reviewed by: rdwpa
      The titular puzzles in Puzzle of Doom aren't switch hunts, timed platforming bits, searches for the odd book out in the library, or anything most people would associate with puzzles in Doom. What they are is a set of combat vignettes, the common link being that conventional fighting -- shooting stuff, dodging, etc. -- won't even come close to working on its own. Blockades, such as rows of hell knights in corridors and cyberdemons planted in front of switches, are ubiquitous. You won't have the firepower to clear them on your own. This is where the puzzle part comes in. In every map, the challenge is essentially "How can you use the monsters and the map geometry to create 'events' that remove the blockades?" You're tasked to think outside the box and exploit monster behavior in unconventional ways.

      It's a cool concept, one I'm very amenable to, but ultimately I felt the set was a mixed bag -- a couple of clever and fun maps alongside a few tedious ones. A recurring pattern is that a solution is inventive but executing it involves lots of unfulfilling repetition, often leaving one to think, "Okay, I get it already". It's worth at least a brief look if the idea appeals to you, but a willingness to IDCLEV would help. Needless to say, if you're looking for conventional Doom gameplay, this set isn't for you. It's not much of a looker either. And be warned if you want to try these maps with saves: in every map it's possible for an early "wrong move" to render the level unwinnable. Mark your progress if you feel compelled to do so but be willing to reset entirely if you reach an impasse. These maps are quite short, after all.
    • Maihama - Memfis
      Doom 2 - Single Player - Vanilla - 156.54 KB - screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif
      Reviewed by: Not Jabba
      Maihama is a smallish map with sort of an abstract nukage base theme. The map is laid out as a series of islands with a city built into them, and the nukage sea is very much a part of the gameplay, as you have to manage radsuits and dive down into it on occasion to look for a switch or key. The whole thing is wide open and nonlinear in the tradition of Sandy Petersen's "Downtown."

      The map starts out with a fairly tough hot start, as you're immediately surrounded by various zombie hitscanners with nothing but a pistol. This sets the tone for the whole map: the goal is to find the weapons first and fight the enemies second, and there are plenty of Doom's deadlier foes around to distract you and trip you up. Ammo is tight, not in the sense that there's not enough of it, but rather because you have to keep moving and hunting around to get what you need to continue fighting, and there's only enough of it to kill all enemies once you've succeeded in finding all the weapons. Since it's a resource management map, it's most challenging toward the beginning, and gradually gets easier as you gain a foothold and build up your arsenal.

      Like many Memfis maps, Maihama doesn't take itself too seriously and is quick to play. It's a good choice for anyone looking for combat puzzles with a relatively low enemy count.
    • Refrigerator Magnets Volume 1 - theJF
      Doom 2 - Single Player - Limit Removing - 1.53 MB - screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif
      Reviewed by: Csonicgo
      Anyone growing up in the US remembers any neighbor's refrigerator with tons of novelty souvenir magnets, mentioning places you didn't get to go to (but hey, at least you got a t-shirt).

      What does that have to do with Doom maps? theJF decided to use fridge magnets as inspiration for maps. Proof that we can find inspiration anywhere, right?

      Wellllll, actually, there's not much inspiration from the magnets; only the names of the maps share any relation. But that doesn't mean the maps aren't fun. Every map is "small", with handfuls of monsters, yet the positioning of said monsters always brings a small scare (the suckers are hiding everywhere). Be prepared to be spooked quite a bit. theJF's use of verticality means a lot of monsters can see you only if you're quite a ways into an area, and the clever use of blocking lines keep those surprises from being triggered too soon. That's a trick I hadn't seen since B.P.R.D. made his Community Chest map back in the day.

      My only complaint is that the texturing isn't consistent. Large, tall areas with little detail to break up the monotony is still forgivable though considering I'm too busy being paranoid of a cacodemon sneaking up from behind and biting my face.

      Lighting could also be improved a bit...

      I'm looking forward to more from this mapper. With some work, maps like these could steal the show in a megawad somewhere.
    • Water Spirit - Manbou(burabojunior)
      Doom 2 - Single Player - Boom Compatible - 7.06 MB - screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif screenie.gif
      Reviewed by: Not Jabba
      Manbou/burabojunior made a splash (no pun intended) last year as the most prolific contributor to the Cacoward-winning Japanese Community Project. Anyone who's been looking forward to seeing more of what this subset of the community has to offer will certainly be pleased with Water Spirit, which offers plenty more of Manbou's creative and playful approach to level design.

      The three levels of Water Spirit are set around a blue-themed stone temple megastructure with lots of pretty falling water, blue laser barriers, and those great dragon stained glass panels from Quake that are in the CC4 texture pack, many of which hang magically suspended in midair. In fact, the whole mapset has a distinct CC4 flavor to it, which isn't surprising given that it was the texture pack used for JPCP, but the setting still feels fresh, unique, and visually stunning.

      Water Spirit isn't just about huge structures with lots of detail, though -- because, let's face it, we've all seen plenty of those by now. One of the things that's really cool about this wad is the unseen presence of the spirit alluded to in the title, which never actually shows itself but still somehow feels like a real character that's part of the narrative. In map 01, there are long trails of health bonuses that guide you along to various weapons and powerups, but also have a tendency to draw you headlong into dangerous situations. Manbou's trademark floating spirals of thin blue glowy bars also seem to be connected with the spirit, often rising up out of nowhere as though granting some kind of blessing to the player (not that they actually do anything for you, but the effect is cool as hell). There's even one spot where you step into the middle of them and are propelled straight up into the air to grab the key you need. The water spirit is clearly benevolent, but maybe also mischievous, which adds a fun element.

      Maps 02 and 03 have high monster counts and tend to be slaughtery, but you have a ton of space to move around in, which really helps the battles to feel like manageable challenges. The big fights can sometimes feel a little bit repetitive -- Manbou seems to like using hordes of small monsters coming through several teleporters at once (which I think are fun for the most part, since you have powerful weaponry to shred them with), and both map 02 and map 03 end with the sudden release of a large number of Arch-Viles into the large open spaces of the temple. But since there are only three maps, and they play pretty quickly despite the high monster counts, I feel like it's OK that there are some combat motifs. My favorite battle is the seemingly endless flood of Imps and Demons released out of a gateway at the climax of map 02, as they seem easy at first but quickly threaten to overrun the entire temple if you don't control them effectively. It's almost like a tower defense game with the player as a solitary mobile tower. That map is also really fun to move around in, and the huge amount of height variation not only makes for some impressive views but also gives you some interesting ways to tackle the combat.

      Overall, Water Spirit is exactly what all of us new Manbou fans were looking for -- a natural continuation of some of the best ideas from the author's JPCP maps, but with a self-contained story and a format that allowed Manbou to explore a single theme in much greater detail. Highly recommended.

    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.

    Edited by Bloodshedder

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    My paragraph breaks in the first three of those reviews were removed somehow (I definitely submitted them with paragraph breaks).


    Edit: has been dealt with, thanks

    Edited by rdwpa

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    Thanks to csonicgo for the review but thanks also to scifista and plums who gave really good help and advice. I was aiming for vanilla but it was a little too much.


    I think the use of monster blocking lines referred to in the review was scifista's suggestion. So thanks again for that!


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    On 9/4/2017 at 0:51 AM, Bloodshedder said:
    • Some slaughtermaps are at the zenith of cerebral play in Doom, forcing you to puzzle out specific strategies and execute them with precision in order to prevail.


    Which ones?


    EDIT: Legit question, not sarcasm.

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