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The /newstuff Chronicles #371

  • Face Palm - 40oz
    doom2.exe - Solo Play - 9702 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Nuxius
    Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the U.S.S. Enterprise!

    O.K., since I guess I actually have to type out a review here, basically this is a level (Captain Obvious to the rescue!), that when viewed in the automap, shows a giant picture of everyone's other favorite captain (Hi Kirk!... sorry, obvious) performing his trademarked face palm. To add to the awesomeness, it's textured in what 9 out of 10 people agree is the greatest Doom texture ever made, FIREBLU.

    If I had to say something negative about it (what, negative? Blasphemy!), it would be that the level has way too much ammo and has no exit. (Then again, why would you want to leave anyway?)

    Other than that, Sir Patrick Stewart would be proud. Make it so!

  • CQB - Blackshadow Software
    EDGE - Solo Play - 33467374 bytes -
    Reviewed by: WildWeasel
    There is nothing I enjoy seeing more than an attempt at turning Doom into something else. However, that enjoyment soon faded after I started CQB by Blackshadow Software, because of all the things I like seeing in Doom, another modern warfare game isn't really one of them.

    Before I could even get this to run, the first thing I had to do was check inside the WAD file to correct a glitch that should have been caught prior to release: garbage characters at the beginning of the DDFLANG lump. These characters prevent the WAD from even starting in EDGE 1.34. Thankfully, after that small bit of unnecessary maintenance, the WAD started with few problems.

    CQB begins similarly to classic Doom Legacy mod Twilight Warrior: you start in a shooting range with an MP5 and a Glock 18. You can either practice your aim in the "kill house" by shooting down the targets as they appear, or you can be like me and just run through the thing in a matter of seconds without bothering to fight back. They're targets; they're not going to shoot back...

    Unfortunately no amount of training could prepare me for the nearly superhuman insurgents in the next level. While in this case HQ provided me with a Sig 552 assault rifle with a tactical scope (useful against those assholes on the rooftops...which is 90% of the population of the level), I found that I just wasn't doing much damage to the enemy at all, while they had no problem taking me down over absurd distances in four or five shots. This is one thing many recent shooters seem to have a problem with as well; even Return to Castle Wolfenstein had ordinary Nazis that took more than one Mauser headshot to kill...

    Level design is obviously slanted towards eyecandy over gameplay, not taking into account some of EDGE's occasional glitches regarding 3D floors, namely that the enemy AI can see you through them. This results in the enemy being aware of your presence much sooner than ought to be possible. What also doesn't help is that many of the insurgents are positioned around blind corners, and since they have near-perfect reaction time and hitscan attacks, they are even worse ambush enemies than Doom's own Chaingunners. (Did I mention that it takes about half a magazine of assault rifle ammo, or an entire Glock magazine, to kill just one of them?) Other glitches include the presence of the Doom shotgun (see fourth screenshot) - yes, you'll actually find the original Doom shotgun lying around at least two of the levels, and it's actually weaker than the weapons you're supposed to be using, taking four shots at minimum to take down a single insurgent.

    Once I made it to the third map (counting the target range), I found myself with no obvious place to go. Turns out, though, that the map design dictates that you find an access key sitting on a desk (hard to see because it's rather small), use said key on a nearby keypad lock, then press another keypad inside of the small store room that the previous lock opened. The second keypad almost perfectly blends with the wall due to it being set so deep.

    I won't deny that the graphics are far in advance compared to most traditional Doom levels, but considering that most of the models are in fact Counter-Strike Source weapons and player models, and the weapon behavior kind of sucks (also the weapon sounds are vastly mismatched - why does the Glock sound more powerful than the Sig?), and the level design sacrifices gameplay for looks...I find it difficult to recommend this to anybody, especially if you don't already have EDGE installed.

  • Doomworld Speedmapping Compilation #24 - Various (uploaded by Solarn)
    Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 390031 bytes -
    Reviewed by: The Ultimate DooMer
    I seem to remember reviewing one of the earliest of these wads a few years ago, and remembering it being something like 5 tiny maps that took about as many minutes each to complete...how things have changed since then. Not so much the number of maps on offer here (which is a lot higher than most), but the mob counts and completion times have gone through the roof.

    So here we have 14 metal-themed maps (well, apart from the last one), a lot of which don't look like speedmaps at all thanks to larger-than-expected size and mob counts resembling anything but. Detail is minimal as expected, although most maps do try to include a basic level of it. Gameplay (playable from scratch) is a mixture...many maps are challenging beyond what you'd expect; in some cases it works great and others it doesn't. There's start spot encounters, overuse of hitscanners (particularly off the start and in traps) and tons-of-mobs-in-a-tiny-space set-pieces to get frustrated at, along with one map that's entirely luck-based in terms of escaping the hordes, and one map that encourages running away from mass spawnings, then penalises you later on for doing so. But there's still plenty of fun to be had, and if you don't mind the absence of detail, it's definitely worth a shot if you like a slaughter fest.

  • badplace - Paul L. Ming
    OpenGL Support - Solo Play - 238850 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Sonikku7
    Here we have a wad that clearly shows how careless mistakes in map design can ruin the entire level. Where do I start? Well first of all, the lighting just sucks. Many areas are just needlessly too dark. So dark that I was almost forced to turn up the brightness in GZDoom. Next we have some laughably bad texture alignment issues. How the author figured that it is realistic or plausible to have a SW1GARG texture cut in half and plastered onto a wall is beyond me. To top it all off, the author couldn't even be bothered to add a texture to two lifts in the same room, which results in lovely HOMs when you go to activate the lifts. Funny enough, there are other lifts that were properly textured and didn't have the HOMs, so one can conclude that the author was just too lazy to properly playtest his wad. Sadly, this could have been just another somewhat decent addition to /idgames, if the author took the time to iron out the flaws. Oh, there are also 279 monsters in this map, and they pose absolutely no threat at all to the player. I exited the level with 50 of them still alive. Sorry Mr Ming, better luck next time. Try harder.

  • Happy Birthday Zap610 - 40oz
    Limit Removing - Solo Play - 77376 bytes -
    Reviewed by: ElFuzzo
    I don't know who Zap610 is, but he or she is one lucky man or lady. If I got this wad for my birthday it would be a good birthday indeed. Very fun to play through and nicely detailed for being made in 6 hours. Not too terribly difficult but not boring either. You might say it's just right, as well as being short and sweet, like a slice of delicious birthday cake should be. Definitely worth playing, though I suggest turning down the music because it kind of makes my ears bleed a little bit.

  • Happy Birthday Mike Reiner - 40oz
    Limit Removing - Solo Play - 86499 bytes -
    Reviewed by: PhilibusMo
    If I had to do this review in four words, they would be "a quite enjoyable map". That really is all you need to know about this latest installment in 40oz's birthday series. The map had a good selection of fights and some nice set pieces. It was also never overly confusing, and all the important things were nicely and cleverly signposted. The general idea is of a base set in some rocky mountains, with both areas looking super. The balance of ammo and health was far better than in InsanityBringer's birthday WAD, although there may have been just a little too much ammo this time sorry, I'm hard to please.

    40oz is a very talented mapper to keep churning out levels of this quality.

  • CelticMansion - Christopher Shepherd aka Armouredblood
    Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 544374 bytes -
    Reviewed by: WildWeasel
    Of all the texture packs freely available for use by Doom authors, I've not really seen any maps that use the Celtic Mansion set. I find that to be a bit of a shame, because they're really quite nice textures. That said, I was quite happy to see this in the review queue: a single map that makes elegant use of the textures at hand (and only a few standard Doom ones where appropriate).

    Some complaints I have are with the architecture getting in the way of the game; there is a scene in an underground tunnel with one narrow walkway with rounded pillars and some holes cut next to the floor. The pillars, while they add character to what would otherwise be an unremarkable corridor, tend to get in the way of the ensuing fight with a handful of Revenants. The holes, which I'd initially guessed were merely decoration, were eventually populated with Chaingunners, my absolute least favorite enemy ever. In this case, they seem to be able to hit you with no problems, while you have to rely on the auto-aim to hit them (unless you're like me and play using mouselook). Even then, the corridor in question is rather dark, and you may not see the Chaingunners down there at first.

    Another complaint is with the fight soon after that, when you press the blue key switch to enter an arena-like room full of Chaingunners, Mancubuses, and lots of Arch-Viles. (I should note I am playing on Hurt Me Plenty. If I understand the text file clearly, that doesn't make a lick of difference...) Given only a Super Shotgun to fight with (I ran out of bullets long ago), this fight is unbelievably aggravating, especially because the door closes behind you. As it happens, though, that's the end of the level, as dropping down the hole in the center of the room ends it.

    While the architecture is not too bad and the use of textures is commendable, I found the map just too hard and short to be enjoyable.

  • Pieklo - Shadowman
    PrBoom+ - Solo Play - 810884 bytes -
    Reviewed by: 40oz
    Pieklo is a pair of some pretty genuinely crafted maps. They are designed after some areas that look like they once served a purpose before monsters showed up. The first map is a wood and carpet apartment building named after a very bad slasher movie. It appears based on a realistic place, but despite the STUCCO textures and book cases, it's not your typical MYHOUSE.wad. It deserves credit for its look but kinda flunks on difficulty, in which the pain lies directly on how well you manage your inventory. I was constantly shuffling between shotgun and pistol making sure I never wasted a single pellet, and GOD FORBID my bullets do 5 damage instead of 15. Even when searching for secrets, the ammo for my weapons usually always remained in the single digits for a majority of the map. I had to kick the difficulty down to Hurt Me Plenty because the ammo conservation was simply torturing me, but even then ammo was still very tight. I suppose I could have saved some ammo if I went to beat up some shotgun guys with my bare hands, but the map isn't quite generous on health either.

    The second map generally has nothing to do with the first one as far as theme goes, but it's a very nice looking castle/dungeon type map with some Quake textures and some gritty bricks. Shotgun guy population is a good bit higher, and carrying a bit of ammo over from the previous map in addition to a chainsaw made this map a little more relaxing. A nicely placed berserk pack was pretty nice too, except that there is pretty much no health beyond that save for green armor and some health bonuses. The tight corridors make some very frightening revenant encounters. I owe my survival entirely to luck on that.

    Very nice maps. Cool designs, good detailing and ominous lighting can sum up the maps as far as looks. Item usage could have been more liberal to accommodate the tricky monster placement and traps, though. I died about 6 times playing this wad.

  • Jupiter 7 - Jacek Nowak
    doom2.exe - Solo Play - 86652 bytes -
    Reviewed by: 40oz
    A cool standard beginner map using Doom 2 stock textures. It pulls off a classic 1995 wad feel and meets some of the minimum qualities of a stock Doom 2 map. The health and ammo placement is pretty good, but the monster placement is a tad shoddy. The first encounter you have with monsters is with an arachnatron and some imps. Weird combo. To add to the mix, there is a line that activates a monster closet with mancubuses in it. At this point it's kinda difficult to create any kind of difficulty progression, and thus the difficulty is kinda stagnant throughout the rest of the map. There are plenty of traps, but hardly any of them are very creative. In fact they are all regular-ass monster closets activated by some oddly placed walkover lines. By oddly placed I mean I usually walk into a room full of monsters and begin fighting them, except I activate the trap about the same time as I open fire on the monsters already in the room. The traps feel like they'd be better placed if they were activated after the monsters in the room were already dead, but instead they just kinda pile up all at once.

    In the map's defense, the text file claims the map takes about 30 minutes to complete. I wouldn't say it takes that long, and it certainly doesn't feel that long either. In fact the map is really quite fun. The layout is pretty well done and there's some backtracking involved, and a couple little scenarios in which you actually have to think, such as a lift activated by a switch in which you need to strafe run across some 64-width catwalks to get to. To the author's credit, some thinking scenarios are some qualities I need to adapt to my own maps, and for that I commend this author. I don't really have any huge gripes except for some pretty bad texture usage in some areas. Overall I don't feel like any of my time was wasted playing this wad. I encourage this mapper to keep mapping.

  • Dissonance - Dharmesh Mistry
    Heretic and OpenGL Support - Solo Play - 1510859 bytes -
    Reviewed by: The Ultimate DooMer
    A large brown Heretic map. Plenty of textures from other sources are brought in to enhance the main theme, and together with the detail it adds up pretty well (apart from a massive HOM in the largest outdoor bit if using non-GL ports). There's plenty of stuff to kill and kill with, but nothing particularly stands out...the loose mauler and the blue key area is probably the best it gets (apart from the numbers, which always works). Overall it's not bad, and is worth playing as a Heretic fan.

  • Teleportation Test Lab #13 - Stormwalker
    ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 199364 bytes -
    Reviewed by: MegaDoomer
    A map for Doom I/Ultimate Doom, running on E1M5. This map has only been tested in ZDoom but may well run on other ports. For much of the time, this map seems like it could be just another level in the author's previous episode, Phobos Massacre, though with a little more health, which is just what Phobos Massacre could have used to maximize its potential (for the author, though, I still enjoyed it). The style is quasi-E1, not authentic but bears some resemblance. The architecture isn't too detailed, but all the areas look clean. And the gameplay is good - there are no difficulty settings, but the level of challenge should be such that it isn't ridiculously easy or ridiculously hard/frustrating for anyone.

    So you get all three keys, and you wonder, "Why is this map called a Teleportation Test Lab if there aren't even any teleporters?" Well, as you probably all know, just because you have every key means not that there is no more to see. So you open the blue door (which happens to be the last key used) and then see a whole room full of big guns and ammo, and wonder what they're doing in an E1 themed level. Then, you finally come to a teleporter. What happens next I shall not give away - let me just say that it works very well, and this is a somewhat rare case in which a level being of two totally unique themes improves its quality, rather than hurting it. Unfortunately the surprise is given away somewhat in the text file, so skip reading the description if you want a surprise. To end you get to beat multiple Spiders and Cybers with your nifty BFG - a satisfying ending to an excellent and pleasing level. Highly recommended - download and play, if you haven't already.

  • Nukage refinery - John Cartwright
    Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 3081339 bytes -
    Reviewed by: 40oz
    This is a HUGE semi-slaughter map. Also, it uses the Deus Vult titlepic with Huy Pham's name on it and everything, but it wasn't made by Huy Pham. It uses Deus Vult textures as well; I suppose the mapper simply merged the two wads together. Anyway, the map is ginormous and has plenty monsters, but the ammo is EXTREMELY tight for how much there is. Theres a shotgun in the beginning, and the first monsters you encounter are generally zombies and imps, which kinda leads you to believe the map will be fair. I had to berserk punch about 500 imps. Later on you find some new monsters you have to take on with your bare hands, like mancubuses and airborne cacodemons. The map is pretty good looking overall though despite a couple HOMs and some areas it is possible to get stuck in. Some weird texture usage, but the nonlinear layout was fun to roam around in and makes up for it. The way I see it is that this map says to me, "I can make maps but not in a manner that's very playable." I was able to locate an overly generous secret area with tons of rockets and cells hidden in the very far corner of the map and a couple shell boxes hidden in a forest of brown trees, which gave a little bit of an edge for a while, until I got taken out by a revenant missile from the very opposite end of the map. I can't say I had much fun with this map.

  • R.I.P. Pietro Tarricone - Walter "Daimon" Confalonieri
    Skulltag - Solo Play - 117283 bytes
    Reviewed by: MegaDoomer
    This is a tiny speedmap with only about five monsters (and you don't need to even kill them all) that can probably the finished in less than a minute. There's nothing noteworthy here at all, just a few rooms, a few average or below new monsters, and an exit. I wouldn't bother downloading it, it's just a waste of time pretty much, even if it isn't much time due to the size.

  • Extreme Fisting of the Pain Elemental - Jodwin
    Boom Compatible - SP/Co-op - 20335 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Eligitine
    As the title suggests, the whole map is about using your fists to kill pain elementals. The are two problems with killing pain elementals with your fists, however. First, your fists are very weak, being on par with a pistol. Second, pain elementals create lost souls. Jodwin does a nice problem of solving the first problem by giving you a berserk at the start of the level. Sadly, he does nothing to solve the second, resulting in lost soul swarms that can sap your health away faster than a visit to the local witch doctor. This is further complicated by the traps that are sprinkled throughout the level. There seems to be a lot of health in the level, but that is deceiving. With all the lost souls, that health will be used up before the fight is halfway over. The levels look decent, with a lot of woody textures being used, but there is only so much brown I can take. The whole level can be speedran in less than one minute, but the thing I like most about this wad is the exit room. Three pain elementals and an archvile in a space roughly equal to map01's exit room. OH JOY.

    The TXT says that the level is DM compatible, which means that my review is not over yet. It's a fairly poor deathmatch map, with areas that you can only open from one side. There are a berserk packs everywhere, and weapon placement is helter-skelter. Don't play this in DM, stick to SP.

  • Mechanical Death - Eye del Cul
    ZDoom Compatible - Deathmatch - 133003 bytes -
    Reviewed by: 40oz
    A pair of deathmatch maps for ZDaemon or ZDoom but work equally as well in Skulltag. The maps are a tad amateur looking, but the layouts flow pretty well. The first map was pretty neat, but the weapon placement wasn't all that generous. The second map is a much prettier looking map, albeit a very symmetrical layout. The weapon placement is a bit more frantic now that rocket launchers and plasma guns are a little easier to get to than the first map. It's pretty fun to play around on.

Does this /newstuff Chronicles suck? Does your wise ass think you can write better reviews than these jerkoffs? Then get over to the /newstuff Review Center and help out. I know you must have a Doomworld Forums account because you like griping about every edition in the comment thread, but if you don't, you need to get one to submit reviews.