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The /newstuff Chronicles #398

  • Alfa 2 - Wraith
    Heretic - Vanilla - Solo Play - 145998 bytes -
    Reviewed by: vinnie245
    Another large Heretic map from Wraith. If you've played any of his other maps you know what to expect: bland map design with a punishing difficulty even on the easiest settings. The lack of health or powerups in general doesn't help either. I also found the green key area fairly confusing, as you have to keep going back to one area just to see if a certain switch has lowered, yet there is no indication at all of when they lower.

    In summary, you're not missing out on much by avoiding.

  • dejavu - Wraith
    Heretic - Vanilla - Solo Play - 98773 bytes -
    Reviewed by: xvertigox
    This is a large, fairly non-linear map for Heretic, occupying slot E3M6. It seems to only run with ZDoom, even though the readme states it should be compatible with DOSBox. It contains co-op spawns and no deathmatch spawns.

    The map feels like it has no real flow; you don't really know where to go until you've explored a good chunk of the map. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but coupled with the fact that there are many dead ends and "pointless" areas (lifts leading only to a platform full of monsters), it compounds the tediousness. I think the map can be accurately described as "a non-slaughter slaughter map for Heretic". The geometry looks like it would be a slaughter map, coupled with the flow, but the monster count is only at 200 (it's quite a big map).

    The balance is pretty reasonable; there's enough ammo, but the map could benefit from more health, although that could make it too easy. Visually it's pretty bare, not much detailing at all. The map is littered with tall structures, often consisting only of a lift leading to a platform containing a few nitrogolems and undead warriors.

    All three keys are required to reach the exit, and to get each key there is a boss fight. Two of them involve Maulotaurs and the other one two iron liches. In all three cases the monsters can be easily avoided and the key taken without needing to kill anyone.

    Overall this map isn't very good, but it's still playable and at times enjoyable. If you're a fan of Heretic it's worth checking it out, but don't expect too much.

  • Holiday in the village - Wraith
    Heretic - Vanilla - Solo Play - 83074 bytes -
    Reviewed by: xvertigox
    A single map wad for Heretic. "Holiday in the village" seems like the author's first attempt at mapping, complete with giant square rooms identical to the giant square room that preceded it.

    Horribly misaligned textures, extremely boring gameplay ("I get to kill another 10 gargoyles with the wand? woohoo!"). This map has no redeeming qualities, and I will be surprised if a single person is able to play it through to the end. No reason to download this map except to see if it's really as shitty as I say it is.

  • The land of the blue tattoo - Wraith
    Heretic - Vanilla - Solo Play - 82465 bytes
    Reviewed by: xvertigox
    Another Heretic map by Wraith. The map is basically unplayable, as there is nowhere near health or ammo to kill all 501 monsters. You get swarmed from the start and have to try to dodge and run past as many monsters as you can until you eventually get mobbed and killed. At least this map is more detailed than "Holiday in the village", but that doesn't really matter when you can't actually play the map. No point in downloading.

  • High tension - Wraith
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 966425 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Xeros612
    High Tension? More like High Frustration.

    Aesthetically, the map isn't bad. It looks more like a city than id Software's attempts in Doom 2, and I didn't notice any HOMs or texture misalignments, though the author claims the latter is in the level.

    Gameplay-wise, it's just awful, especially on Ultra-Violence. If you know where the switches you need to hit are, you can relatively easily just run past the hordes of monsters to hit them, otherwise you're stuck fighting said hordes without a whole lot of ammo. Later in the level the author's mindset for increasing the difficulty seemed to fall along the lines of "take an enemy widely seen as annoying, spawn lots of them, and throw a mastermind into the mix". Specifically, hordes of revenants.

    Unless you're bored and looking for a very tough challenge, it's a definite pass.

  • Into the Unknown - Rami Ramstedt
    Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 1517807 bytes -
    Reviewed by: vinnie245
    A horrific wad that has awful and bland level design and some of the most annoying sounds ever in a Doom wad; the player character makes an orgasm sound every time you pick up an item... enough said.

    Absolute dogshit...AVOID.

  • Smart CTF - IDL 2011 Edition - DX-Chan
    Doom 2 - CTF Support - CTF - 2360022 bytes -
    Reviewed by: dew
    I decided to try this reviewing thing and picked a title that caught my attention. Naturally, I assumed that DX-Chan was a wordplay on Dicks-Chan and the maps would be full of hentai textures and maybe even some custom tentacle monsters. To my disappointment it's just a bunch of CTF maps from Chaindude.

    Let's shed a little light on this release. One day Chain looked upon the CTF wads out there and wept. Ever since the release of the original three zdctf map packs, new wads were always a disappointment. Mappers either followed the working formulas and cloned the most popular zdctf maps, or they went all experimental and missed the goal by, like, a continent. And so Chain embarked on a quest to take the genre to the next level.

    50 years later: All his maps were still WIPs, because this texture needed fixing and that platform had to be moved by 4 units. Smart CTF maps were perhaps the most thoroughly tested CTF maps ever, but with Chain adding new maps and tweaking the old ones all the time, nothing was ever given the official stamp. This meant that the IDL administration, in its bureaucratic wisdom and physical beauty, never considered the maps for use in IDL compilation wads. This chafed at Chain endlessly, so he did the unbelievable - he picked five maps and declared them complete to sate the bureau hydra. He went as far as to paint the maps with IDL logo textures, by which he angered the powers-that-be of ZDaemon... but that's a tale for a different Halloween night, kids.

    So here we are, a 5-map pack in hand. Is it truly the holy grail promised to us? Does it change water into wine, heal gonorrhoea, fix America's budget? Not the second part sadly, but it's a damn good wad with a professional approach apparent from its every aspect. It's not just the mapping and intensive playtesting that caters to the standardized 4v4 private CTF scene; Chain went the extra mile and got some of this community's greatest to contribute. There's artwork by T.V. and there's an original kickass soundtrack by Jimmy and Forty-Two; you don't see that in multiplayer projects very often and it feels nice to be pampered so. I'm going to return the favour and give each map a little space.

    map01: Lazarus Revisited
    The name and theme alludes to Chain's DM project Lazarus and it's possibly the most playtested CTF map in history. You can see why, though. U-shaped designs are usually the worst for bottlenecking the gameplay on a linear mid area, but this one flings at least four different routes into a small space where everyone meets and chaos ensues. To Chain's credit, all of the routes feel useful, and even the sewer pipes don't suffer from being a secondary area that takes you out of the map for a while, which weakens your team. Exploring fine details and trying out crazy tricks like rocketjumps is rewarded, although players get most glory when they hero it out by shooting everyone in their way with the SSG. We're a primitive society.

    map02: Forgotten Outpost
    Back-to-back bases divided with a thin wall aren't unheard of in CTF; the rest is quite novel. There's even more entry points into the base than in map01, although I'd probably never use the lift one, because it is slow and easy to defend. Ninja'ing it up a crack in the mortar on a wall is more to my liking. The flag is nearly impossible to defend for a longer time, so it travels around quite a lot, and most games I've played or seen here finished close to the exciting optimum of 5-4 results. The anti-gravity lift is a little bit gimmicky, to be honest, but I do like using it, because I'm a sucker for impressive entries.

    map03: Boom Anomaly
    A Plutonia-themed map covered in bricks and vines, this layout is probably closest to the usual non-Smart CTF fare of frantic maps. Don't get me wrong, there are tricks and finer gameplay mechanics waiting all around, but the pace can get so crazy that you'll drop the smartypants attitude and just rush the flag like there's no tomorrow. This makes the map weaker than the rest, as there's not enough incentive to play smart. For example, I can imagine using the flag teleporter in-game, but not the crusher on mid. It's still much fun, but some parts get neglected, and even Jimmy's action-provoking music works toward streamlining the map.

    map04: Daedalus' Arena
    This is a unique map through and through. At first it looks like a typical maze where, to borrow the words of a legend, teams are engaged in a deadly game of cat and also-cat. However there's a spot where you can call a scripted archvile attack upon yourself and jump on top of the flat "roof" of the maze and run around freely. This changes the dynamics completely and a team needs a dedicated player to overlord and come in to support during vital moments. Oh, there's also BFG up there. This, however, also means less players down in the maze, and this is where Chain's goal (4v4) starts to drift away from IDL's focus (3v3). The one player makes a big difference here, and despite the map's quality, it doesn't exactly fit the assignment.

    map05: Asteroid Conflict
    It's easy to recognize the inspiration in Quake 3/CPMA (particularly the map Camper Crossings). Highly vertical design and prominent use of jump pads make the map stand out from its Doom peers, although when viewed from the top-down perspective it uses fairly standard layout. It feels very compact and the gameplay flows freely with no choke points. Mappers thinking about making a techbase CTF map should look for an inspiration here. I just wish there was a way to play just this map with a Dehacked that'd speed up rockets to bring it one step closer to Quake.

    All in all, this is a great effort, and every map holds the high standard, unlike your typical CTF megawad consisting of 50% filler and 40% failed concepts. There are five more maps to look forward to, and it's fair to say at least a few of this first quintet will see some IDL action. The tentacle rape action will have to wait for RottKing's next project though.

  • DooM Vacation - Joseph Otey (Doorhenge)
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 6300939 bytes -
    Reviewed by: xvertigox
    DooM Vacation is a 6 map (3 singleplayer/coop and 3 deathmatch/ctf) partial conversion that aims to recreate the Duke Nukem 3D "Duke Caribbean - Life's a Beach" expansion in Doom. It requires a ZDoom-based engine to run (i.e ZDoom, Skulltag, etc).

    When I first downloaded the mod I wasn't expecting much: a few ripped sprites, some familiar levels, bad to average textures, and similar monster placement. I was very pleasantly surprised.

    The maps themselves seem to have been converted directly from the Duke3D source files or very carefully recreated. I can't vouch for the rest, but map01 is very, very similar to the Duke3D counterpart. The maps look very nice in places with sparse but effective use of ZDoom features such as colored lighting, particle effects and slopes. Each map has memorable set pieces that remain in my memory because they look so good. When I say good I don't mean that it's extremely detailed, but that everything is nice and bright and the levels have been put together well (you can see some of it in the screenshots). Don't get me wrong, there is definitely enough detailing.

    It's important for a map to look good but what's more important is for it to play well too. Luckily, DooM Vacation comes through again with entertaining gameplay. I played on UV and the maps were balanced very well; they are challenging but not what I would call "hard". To me this is the perfect because this is actually a pretty relaxing wad, from the music to the item pick up sounds (steel drum sounds for health etc.) to the bright colors and overall motif make this a "nice" Doom experience. You really want to run around and explore the maps.

    It might sound strange that it's a relaxing Doom wad, but when you're running around a water park blasting cacodemons with coconuts from your R.P.C you can't help but smile. A modified PLAYPAL gives you nice, soft blues that work well with the maps. The music also plays a big role in the relaxing atmosphere; you'll know what I mean when you hear it.

    The wad feels quite polished. All of the weapons have be replaced including ones that don't have a Duke3D counterpart; for example, the plasmagun is an ice dispenser and the SSG is a conch shell. Lots of little things add up to make the game feel more fleshed out; jumping onto sand and seeing some kick up is one of the nice little touches.

    Unfortunately this mod isn't without it's problems, but luckily, they're all quite minor. By far the biggest problem I've had is the girls. There are bikini clad women who, if you're around them, constantly try to walk into you, blocking your path and making you waste ammo to kill them (they're pretty resilient, taking 1 SSG or 3 SG shots). They don't even die properly, they just disappear, so you get no satisfaction from it. You'll get used to hearing "How do you like my tan?" and "These don't come cheap" pretty quickly. Luckily after map01 you rarely see them.

    There are a few other, minor issues such as the water gun/chaingun leaving green marks on walls. Definitely nothing game-breaking though. It is also important to note that this wad requires jumping, and in case you get stuck at the beginning be sure to back to the beach and check the changing tents (get me every time)!

    Overall, I was very impressed with this wad and had a blast playing it. I definitely recommend checking it out.

  • PHOBOSPHERE - David J. Reid a.k.a. MoonLust
    Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 327835 bytes -
    Reviewed by: The Green Herring
    This WAD is dated April 1995, and comes courtesy of "GOTHIC MIDI," a one-man outfit for sound and music recording. The WAD's text file, alas, is the only remaining evidence of its existence. Phobosphere generally sticks to the theme of a techbase, with the exception of a descent into a cavern at the end. In general, the texture choices are appropriate for the theme, both in the base and in the cavern, and if there are any errors in texture alignment, I haven't seen them. Most of the rooms and passages, for that matter, are quite wide, but not too much; combined with its large size, this makes it a fun place to run around in, on top of being a nice, low-detail construction. That the progression generally makes sense helps, too. The WAD includes custom sound effects, which comprise largely of stock sounds used in films and other video games; contrary to many WADs with sound replacements, they manage to fit in pretty nicely for the most part. It's certainly music to the ears compared to, say, some guy shouting Dirty Harry quotes into a microphone. Oddly enough, the actual music (included in the package as SEEKER.MID) was composed specifically for FM synthesis; when played in that environment, it's a decent tune that's appropriate for the level. Outside of it, it is still an adequate tune.

    Phobosphere, of course, is not without its problems. Most prominently, it is much too easy; not only do you get few enemies for such a big level, but you get way too much ammo and weaponry for the opposition you face. No matter which staircase you descend after the first two rooms, you will find a plasma gun with a lot of ammo, and, in one case, a backpack. Most ridiculous is that there's a BFG9000 in this level, but you only get it near the end, when you have maybe 25 enemies left and most of them are weak. There is also a multitude of design oddities, such as teleporters that work on only one side, doors that open only when you shoot them that don't hide secrets, and secrets that can never be found outside of cheating — which is just as well, because you get no credit for finding them. (You will get 0% Secrets — 100% in modern ports — no matter what you do.) Finally, not all of the sound replacements are entirely appropriate. For instance, the one new death sound for the imp is identical to the original — except with inexplicable bird chirping added on; and the imp's close-range attack plays an "electric shock" sound, which is obviously not appropriate for a slashing attack.

    Overall, if you're looking for a challenge, Phobosphere is not the WAD to play. If you want a decently-constructed "vanilla" level that's fun to run around in, blazing through monsters with the plasma gun unopposed, you can't go wrong with this one. Try this WAD at least once; if you go at a steady pace, it shouldn't take more than 15 minutes to complete.

  • Red Crescent Medikits - Mohammed Sambool ibn Himar
    Doom/Doom 2 - Vanilla - N/A - 1839 bytes -
    Reviewed by: The Green Herring
    This is a very simple sprite mod, compatible with any source port, that replaces the Red Cross on all of Doom and Doom II's medikits (including the Berserk Pack) with the Red Crescent, the equivalent symbol used in countries with mostly Muslim populations. The symbol on the stimpack is a little too tall in the back for a crescent, but otherwise, this WAD does its job well — and that's all that really matters. If you ever wanted to pretend the UAC is from one of those countries, this will help at least a little.

  • Fae Pente - Michael "Optimus" Kargas
    Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 28320 bytes -
    Reviewed by: The Green Herring
    This is a full, nine-level episode inspired by the 5 Minute Map Collection. Each level is very short, totally bare as far as detail goes, and plagued with serious design issues, most prominently poor ammo balance. But then, what else would you expect from levels that were each built in literally five minutes? If you've got ten minutes to waste and want a bit of a laugh, this may deliver. Otherwise, you ought to skip this one.

  • Infestated Base (Remake) - Gothic
    Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 3024708 bytes -
    Reviewed by: xvertigox
    Infestated Base is a remake of an old ZDoom map to Boom, and it definitely shows. It's a small techbase map that oozes ZDoom, and not in a necessarily good way. It's full of detail clich้s, it looks like it used prefabs from Realm667 - generic, ZDoom-y detailed lights being the most noticeable. This isn't a deal breaker, but it sets the tone for the rest of the map.

    The map is easy. I would call it very easy if it weren't for the two archviles and cyberdemon present in the map. The archviles are easy to kill: there are convenient corners to hide behind, you only have to fight one at a time, and it's easy to keep them away from corpses. The cyberdemon is also fairly easy to kill; you have cover to hide behind and avoid his rockets just by strafing. The difficulty with the cyberdemon comes with the possibility of having too little ammo.

    There is a new monster, a plasmagun zombie, that only appears a few times. The sprites are decent and he can deal a good amount of damage if you let him lay down a stream of plasma into you, but it's only really a novelty.

    Even though some parts of the map look generic, overall the architecture is good. The architecture may be good but the gameplay is just average; it feels like aesthetics take precedence over gameplay. The layout is a hub of sorts, as you have a main room with a few doors. Go through a door, flip the switch/grab the key, return to the main room and go through the next accessible door until you're done. The map also uses too many different custom texture packs, which makes it feel disjointed in parts.

    If you're looking for a small techbase map to blast through in under 10 minutes this is worth playing. Even though this map isn't amazing, it shows Gothic is a reasonable mapper, and if he keeps at it he will could definitely start producing some good maps.

  • 1_6TRON.WAD - Trond Schjelderup
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 541604 bytes -
    Reviewed by: The Green Herring
    This six-level WAD is dated May 11, 1995 — or would be, had the WAD and its text file not been downloaded individually from an FTP site before uploading, thus changing their timestamps, without an explanation as to why. Between this and leaving out the documentation for PURPOSE.WAD, I'm starting to wonder if Perseus should just stop doing archival WAD uploading and let other people do it for him.

    In any case, 1_6TRON.WAD is stereotypically mid-'90s: Oversized rooms, simplistic layouts, goofy sound replacements compiled from whatever samples the author happened to have on his computer, and terrible gameplay. The last three levels in particular suffer from a serious lack of ammo, so don't count on getting 100% kills without an arch-vile helping you; and in MAP05, it's possible to get permanently stuck if you jump into a certain teleporter without getting the red key first. To make matters worse, the two levels that stand out for interesting design (MAP02 and MAP03) are swiped from Heretic with very little edited or added — except, inexplicably, for Wolfenstein textures. What we have, then, is a shoddy piece of work that would probably have been better left gathering dust in the author's hard drive. Needless to say, you should skip this one.

  • Confinement 512 - BloodyAcid
    Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 101470 bytes -
    Reviewed by: xvertigox
    Confinement 512 is a 7 map wad for Doom 2. The readme doesn't specify a required port, but I got missing textures on map01 when not using ZDoom/GZDoom, and I got a missing texture on map02 unless using Skulltag.

    The concept is that each map must be no larger than 512x512 in size, similar to the Congestion and Claustrophobia series. I will write a review for each map and have one screenshot per map. I played every map on UV from a pistol start and got 100% kills.

    map01 - Acidity - This map kicks off the wad with a fairly easy start. The map centers around a pool of acid with enemies appearing on either side. The gameplay is fairly easy and could probably be completed on your first attempt on UV. Visually it's not the best; the detailing is reasonable, but I find the silver and grey contrast too much with rest of the green/brown in the rest of the level.

    map02 - Hard Drop - The difficulty spikes on this map, mainly due to having to fall right in between two mancubuses from a high ledge. After you get used to the monster placement it becomes a lot easier; if you survive it on your first attempt it'll be due to luck. It's an enjoyable map and looks decent too.

    map03 - 512 Base - This map is much better than the first two maps; it's a tiny tech base with an outdoor area. You get a lot more room to move around in than the last two maps. It feels bigger than map01 and much bigger than map02. The monster placement is good with only the final, teleporting mancubus causing problems, but once you know where it appears you can take it down fairly easily. It looks good, having enough detailing, and the small base is cute.

    map04 - Brown Out - A brown brick map with a sewer area. Unless you play it well it can be very difficult, as an archvile appears in a closed area, next to a cacodemon and baron of hell corpse; that is, unless you preemptively lead them away and kill them in another room before revealing the archvile. The sewer area is also a bit tough the first time you play it. Visually the map is nicely detailed, with the brown contrasting the previous maps nicely.

    map05 - Hell's Appetizer - A hell/lava themed map that is by far the most difficult in the set. Counter-intuitively, the whole floor is made of lava, but only the small sector you start on is damaging, which can lead to confusion. This is a slaughter heavy map where you decimate hordes of revenants with the rocket launcher by backing into a corner and spamming. It would be more fun if it wasn't so reliant on chance (i.e how quickly the revenants bum rush you and whether or not you blow yourself up).

    map06 - Marble Complex - A map with a strong novelty skew: you berserk punch your way through the majority of the map's denizens. Visually it's essentially a big square with some detailing, but that doesn't detract from the map - it doesn't look bad at all. Ammo was a slight problem for me; I didn't have enough to ammo to shoot the tougher monsters to death at the end and thus had to punch some hell knights to death. Maybe if I tried again it wouldn't happen - I finished it in my first run.

    map07 - Dead Simple - a 512x512 version of the original dead simple: kill all the mancubuses until arachnotrons teleport in, kill them and you're done. Very easy for a final map, the only real challenge coming from killing the first mancubus; then you have a pillar to hid behind and are safe from projectiles.

    Overall, I quite enjoyed this wad, each map feeling like a little training mission, almost like a simulation of a "real" map. It's definitely worth playing through once, but I don't think it would have any real replay value. A worthwhile release and download.

  • It's Nothing Personal - Joshua Dickerson
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 15777164 bytes -
    Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
    First of all: my computer is old (6/7 years), so the speed of the port I used to play this map was slowed to the level of (really!) a screen shot at 50 seconds delay from the second half of the map! And due to this annoying glitch, I gave up playing it before exiting. Sad but true.

    This map for ZDoom and Skulltag (according to the text file) uses the well-known "Beautiful Doom" mod, an awesome combo pack made some years ago, here in its latest incarnation. The map is a good looking classic-style techbase, filled with lots of monsters, making it a hard asset in your daily "you-against-hell" routine. Also, there's great and cool usage of the ZDoom engine (I liked mostly the floating spheres in that deep water area shown in the 6th shot).

    Gameplay flow is hectic and really hard, but it was a nice clash against the hellspawn, and the few puzzles were funny to solve. It may be a little bit linear, but after all it was a nice choice, and if it wasn't for the speed of my PC, it could be more appreciated.

    Anyway, this is a very good map, and if you have a fast machine it will be much better. A worthy download.

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.