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The /newstuff Chronicles #401

  • RSL and Zero Tolerance - Richard Smith Long
    Doom/Doom 2 - GZDoom - Solo Play - 1072260 bytes -
    Reviewed by: kmxexii
    This is a mod for a mod, Zero Prophet's Zero Tolerance. As well as a few other tweaks, it adds a secondary fire to Zero Tolerance's "0" weapon, the Infinity. It burns fifty cells and launches a projectile that travels in a straight path, causing damage to everything it moves by, until it strikes anything that would stop a projectile, like a wall or an enemy. Then it turns into a black hole that sucks in enemies from a pretty good distance. Affected miscreants turn into silhouettes colored eternity blue before they're crushed into a singularity. Oh, and don't get too close, because it will slay you dead, too, just nearly as fast.

    As advertised, it does a pretty damn good job of wiping out HR-style hordes. The black hole sticks in position for awhile, annihilating all enemies that happen to wander by it, so launching it at the head of an oncoming army will do some serious damage. There can only be one hole active at a time, though, so its effect is rather limited, not to mention that to my untrained eye, Cyberdemons and Spider-Masterminds are not only immune to the hole, but take zero damage even if they're sitting right on top of it. Richard Long made a pretty good crowd control weapon, but it's no BFG when it comes to taking down Cyberdemons in a couple bumps. That said, this mod is highly functional and accomplishes its intended purpose. It's a pretty harmless add-on for what is in my limited experience a really fun gameplay mod.

  • 64 Test Map - C30N9
    Custom IWAD - Doom64 EX - Solo Play - 39807 bytes -
    Reviewed by: kmxexii
    This is a quick map C30N9 whipped up for Doom 64 as experienced through Kaiser's succulent Doom64EX (load using the -file parameter in the launcher). It's pretty violent and features virtually all of Doom 64's regular cast, as well as the shotgun, super shotgun, chaingun and rocket launcher. It's a little basic, but it has some nice architectural touches (like the ceiling of the rocket launcher room or the very room you begin in). The map's pretty bright, but use of 64's colored lighting gives a nice ambiance.

    Pretty much all the fun here is in the encounters. The two that stick out in my mind are scripted gauntlets. In the first one a pedestal drops to the ground and four hell knights appear on columns in the four corners of the room. It's the hardest moment of the map (at least, for me), followed up by another attack after all the knights are silenced. The other takes place in the very cool-looking blue key room, which is loaded with ammo. The three waves get progressively more dangerous and full of heavies; the last has a bevy of barons and knights to soak up all your shells. There's a final fight to get to the exit, but you have an invulnerability, so what's to worry?

    It's not a very big map, so there's not a whole lot left to say! I liked the portal to the blue key room and the final room looks great with its walls shrouded in shadow. Hearing the lost souls crawl up from the void gave me chills. If I were to give any criticism, it's that some areas are pretty humdrum. The solid walls of library books look banal and the main hallway looks like something out of RoTT in spite of that zig-zag on the top. Understand, though, that I'm pretty much reaching to insult a solid (test) product that plays well. If you love Doom 64, you should play this.

    (NOTE: The teleporter in the blue key room is broken. C30N9 advises you to use IDCLIP to return to the main area for the final battle, and I agree.)

  • OMG Weapons! (and Monsters) v2 - Dean "deathz0r" Joseph
    Doom/Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - N/A - 419960 bytes -
    Reviewed by: kmxexii
    From a cursory amount of research, this is a 2011 update to one of the oldest ZDoom DECORATE mods, authored by deathz0r, due to the fact that RandomSpawner is now an Actual Thing (which we all know quite well). Whatever it used to achieve the effect prior to the update must have been impressive. I dunno what else has changed under the hood, if anything. The mod itself is composed almost entirely of stock Doom II resources that have been recolored. There's a whole host of new enemy types and weapons with which to slaughter them, provided you're not scraping your brains up off the floor.

    Which is to say, the additions turn Doom into an explosive super-lethal orgy. Rocket shells fly and bounce and make you dread seeing any kind of former human, not to mention SSG troopers and flamethrower commandos. Or how about the deadliest enemies of all, the accursed mini-demons and mini-spectres, who like electrons have moved beyond the position at which you observed them when you actually register their location? These are, of course, gross exaggerations. The gameplay changes that result due to OMG do not make the mod unplayable on stock Doom maps, but they make it significantly more difficult, especially when starting out.

    Some of the weapons are pretty fun, if impractical, like the throwable chainsaw. Some are super-powerful alternatives compared to the originals, like the "Ballbreaker", which fires four SSG blasts at once, or the flamethrower / minigun, which shoot incredibly fast but chew through ammo like popcorn. Some of the larger monster varieties are pretty neat, too, like a revenant that summons imps by punching the ground. Generally, you'll find that the introduced monster varieties are much stronger than their normal counterparts, and though you have a boosted power level of your own, it hardly seems to matter when you teleport into a pack of zombiemen who are now rocking enough explosives to field a small army.

    If you don't like randomizers, or like weapons mods that add tons of pretty effects, don't play with this. It's pretty basic stuff, though entirely functional and kind of fun.

  • Hardcore - Carlos
    Doom 2 - cDoom - Solo Play - 242395 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Melon
    Finally, enough of the CDoom test maps, it's time for an actual genuine CDoom gameplay wad. Naturally it's filled to the brim with the all-new CDoom features, so we can finally see what it's all about. It's at this point I also noticed that CDoom adds "All credits to Jesus Christ" when you load the program. No credits for id?

    Back to the wad. Hardcore is an 8 level set for Doom 2. All of the levels tend to follow the same theme, that is, square rooms of a single texture randomly filled with as many different types of monsters possible, with half of the rooms containing a cool CDoom feature in the middle, like a tiny slime pit with a slope.

    While all this is going on, monster sprites will continuously flicker in and out of existence. One of the accompanying screenshots is a 3D floor around a slime pit and some tech lights; notice how there's a cacodemon fireball but no cacodemon? It's there all right, his sprite is just invisible. (Also invisible, a group of 3 cacodemons frozen still as they get stuck on the 3D floor).

    But while the CDoom bugs are making this wad unplayable, would it be good if you converted the levels to ZDoom so you could use 3D floors and slopes that weren't buggy? No. The level design is poor, the gameplay is bad and the levels look ugly. Given that this is CDoom's flagship wad, there hasn't been a launch title this bad since Sewer Shark on the Sega CD.

    Thanks a lot Jesus. Addendum: I forgot to mention that the levels are modified SLIGE maps, which is a big indicator of the level's poor quality.

  • Kurogane - Memfis
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 121765 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Kirby
    Kurogane is a standalone level made by Memfis, and if I had to pick one adjective to help describe this level, it would be austere. But austere in such a way that allows the level to stand out in the areas it excels in.

    By this I mean that the level is quite good. It's got balance, it's got gameplay, it has a superb sense of where to touch up certain details without even going near complexity. A couple of new textures are included to spruce up the level as a whole, and even those are very simple edits themselves. This level almost follows as a skeleton map that, even if it somehow had less detail would still be supported by the gameplay and level design in my honest opinion.

    Wonderfully simple and elegant - those are the other adjectives that I follow austere with on this level. I would certainly recommend this to everyone for playing.

  • BABEL - Unknown
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 61943 bytes -
    Reviewed by: TomoAlien
    This is another WAD uploaded by Perseus for archival purposes. This one is from 1995, just so you know.

    As the title suggests, this WAD is a homage to E2M8. A poor homage at that, but I'll tell you about that later.

    The first problem is that it's a single map which is not on MAP01. It's MAP03 for no apparent reason, but that's an oddity which occurs in many old maps. The second odd thing is an included copy of PKZIP inside the .zip. Pointless.

    Now, for the map itself.

    It's pretty much very similar to the beloved Cyberdemon boss fight from Doom, but here the execution is quite poor. There are weapons, ammo and megaspheres scattered around. You've got two Arch-Viles on your tail as a bonus. It's very easy to do once you figure out that you can just run to the exit without even bothering to fight any of the three monsters.

    There are secrets, but there's the thing: They look like teleporters and don't do a damn thing. Yes, they're pointless lifts scattered around with teleporter textures. The author forgot to put in the teleport spots.

    Oh, and you can find an invulnerability powerup in the exit. Again, pointless.

    Well, it's a poor homage to Tower Of Babel. Nothing more, nothing less. Don't bother downloading it, as it's only a waste of time.

  • Hub of pain - John Cartwright
    Doom 2 - PrBoom+ - Solo Play - 437850 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Kirby
    Hub of Pain is a slaughter map designed for PrBoom. It's a larger-than-average level with decent architecture and assured slaughter gameplay. In the end though it comes out as somewhat odd. I say this because the author chose to replace the lost souls with their alpha counterparts, as well as a few other sprites.

    OK, the lost souls weren't that odd; however, I couldn't figure out why the health potions were suddenly replaced with swords sticking out of the ground. How would that even work? (Yes I'm looking too much into this). Armor bonuses are replaced with boxes, and all shotgun ammo sprites are replaced with the shell box sprite. Only now there is no writing on the side of it. So you go around picking up unmarked boxes that are already open. To be honest I'm complaining about this so much because it just looks plain weird.

    The map is OK - offers up the slaughter gameplay experience, though perhaps a bit spread out with where ammo can be found. Also included are a few new textures and a Heretic MIDI. There is also a slight fog added to the level (which seems to be the only PrBoom feature I see used) which doesn't particularly do much for it.

    Kinda strange, not too bad - it's a hit or miss here, though nothing great anyhow.

  • 32in24 II: Single Player - The 32in24 team!
    Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 720503 bytes -
    Reviewed by: The Green Herring
    The fabled second 32in24, the single-player edition from 2007, has finally made its way onto /idgames... without permission from Shaikoten, esselfortium, or anyone else involved in its development. I'm pointing that out because this marked the series' first and (so far) only failure, in that it didn't manage to get 32 levels within its 24-hour time limit. This WAD contains 19 finished levels, and ends with a one-room level bearing an apology for not being a full megawad (shot 1.) There was also a notable lack of communication between the people running the project, and it was generally felt that the whole thing was mediocre. For these reasons, while esselfortium compiled and uploaded the WAD to his own webspace at the time, it was never uploaded to /idgames for four years. While the uploader's e-mail is not provided, I'm willing to guess that it was Perseus; after 0_5 Resor, he strikes me as exactly the kind of person who would upload an old WAD without bothering to do any research first.

    In any case, this WAD is intended to be a Boom-compatible level set. Like the rest of the series, as implied earlier, each level was made within 24 hours, and they express how much the designers were able to squeeze out of that time limit. As with other such collections, the quality varies wildly. It ranges from genuinely good, such as MAP02, MAP06, and MAP09-11; to decent, like MAP01, MAP03-04, MAP07, and MAP14; to mediocre, as with MAP05, MAP08, MAP12-13, MAP16, and MAP18-19; and to atrocious, as is the case with MAP15 and MAP17. MAP18 in particular seems designed solely to troll the player with its rather annoying jumping sequences. As also expected with speedmapping collections, the WAD has a few bugs crawling around in it. Some are due to ZDoomisms: MAP03 and MAP05 cannot be finished because some vital doors are switch-activated without a tag and are thus impossible to open, while MAP17 has a vital door blocked from the player's attempts to open it by a walk trigger something that could have been avoided with Boom's PassThru tag. Other bugs don't have such an excuse, insomuch that it qualifies as an excuse: MAP01 has a few monsters trapped outside of the level because the tag for a monster teleporter was placed in the wrong sector, MAP06 has a door that's glitched on one side thanks to an unclosed sector (shot 9), and MAP18 cannot be completed legitimately because one door opens too low for the player to cross (shot 10).

    Overall, this WAD is mostly mediocre. There are a few gems in this WAD, as well as some decent levels to go around, but otherwise, there is a good reason this WAD wasn't uploaded to /idgames for so long. There has only been one other single-player 32in24 since this one, Diet 32in24, as the series has traditionally focused on multiplayer WADs. You could download this WAD to play the levels I've categorized as "good" and "decent;" apart from that, it would be wise to skip this one.

  • NH1 - Croysent
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 23906 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Memfis
    Very challenging 6-map wad designed for continuous play in Max style (that is, exit each map with 100% kills). All levels are very short and consist of one or two fights. Ammo balance is quite tight, and on UV there are no health items at all. The design is very simple, don't expect any eye candy.

    Basically, it was made for speedrunners by a speedrunner, and if you're not one of them, better try something else.

  • Project RAGNAROK - Loki
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 1117345 bytes -
    Reviewed by: kmxexii
    Project Ragnarok is apparently Russian mapper "Loki"'s first WAD. It's an episode for ZDoom containing 10 levels that he notes is in a Wolf-3D style. This isn't exactly accurate. The first three maps feature a lot of Wolf3D textures, and mostly SS Nazis, but maps 4-9 are Hell-themed, with the final level a mixture. The action of the maps kind of implies a story where the Nazis discovered Hell and were researching it, kind of like Doom 3. As is usually the case with these kinds of productions, there are graphical errors (some pretty blatant) as well as a few egregious faults, like MAP03's exit, which breaks if you bump up against it. Once you get past the Nazi maps, though, things get better.

    It's clear that Loki's skill is developing as you play through the set. He dumps the heavy lean toward Nazis for more interesting gameplay with Doom's bestiary, and the architecture and detailing improve. You can see his first cautious steps toward lighting and he gets more comfortable. There's also a fair bit of puzzle-solving, usually obvious, with my only real snag being the final room of MAP09, which involves killing a Romero head. I don't know what I did to solve it, and it might have involved a secret switch.

    The combat gets kind of engaging after ducking the Nazis. There's a giant caldera you fight in where imps and revenants on several tiers fire down on you while demons run interference on the ground and a couple cacodemons and a baron in the center get a good crossfire going. He also has some neat ideas, like the penultimate room where you walk through a "normal" city park, then through a hedge maze that turns into a Hellish mirror. MAP08, "Muspelheim", is particularly cool (you emerge from the mouth of a red stone dragon). Other concepts like the giant concrete pyramid early on don't work quite so well, but you have to take the good with the bad.

    Also of note these maps are all doable from pistol start, though they're typically much easier with carryovers (and the presence of powerups available only at the end of several maps enforces this play style). By "doable", I mean sometimes having to pistol snipe, which will be tough if you don't have the crosshair enabled as the pistol is woefully off-center. I'm not fond of the chaingun, either, as it's the only weapon oriented to the right. I don't really care either way about the shotgun re-skin (Doom Alpha rifle). Also a lot of hanging bodies used irritatingly block movement, the worst case found in the penultimate room. (And 20% damage floors.) Anyway, despite these complaints, Project Ragnarok has a lot of heart, and I feel that Loki will only improve as an author with continued practice.

  • Slaughter speedmapping - Zoltan Schmidt "Katamori"
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 33034 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Phobus
    This slaughter map was put together in 90 minutes, according to the text file. I have no trouble believing that, as the resulting map is small - literally a small starting room, a corridor and a horseshoe-shaped arena. Visually it's nice enough, with the start room being a bit cluttered with detail and the actual combat arenas being more cleanly decorated. This is let down slightly by the main base door being textured with a 16-unit tall brown step texture, which (as the text file points out) suffers from vanilla Doom being incapable of tiling it vertically, resulting in the tutti-frutti effect. I played in ZDoom, so I didn't see this first hand, but I know the effect well enough. I question why Katamori left this in even after acknowledging the issue. Perhaps the 90 minute time limit was very strictly applied?

    However, in a slaughter map, we're all here for the game play (or so I'm told). So how does it stack up? Well... it's all right. 263 monsters on UV, with the added challenge of trying to take exciting screenshots, did result in me taking some damage. However, between the space the player has in the main arena, the rampant infighting and massive supply-to-demand ratio for ammo and health, this is a very easy map. A couple of daring dives with the BFG at opportune moments and there's effectively nothing to fear.

    Overall, I'd say this project is a nice effort for 90 minutes' work, but it probably took me just as long to write this review as it did to play the map (~3:30). You'll do yourself no harm checking it out, but it's very forgettable.

  • Riot Control - Dutch Devil
    Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 1308757 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Memfis
    Four maps with Quake textures and TNT music. The theme is really nice and Dutch Devil's sense of detail is excellent as usual. I found the gameplay on UV moderately challenging: there were no difficult moments, but I had to be careful until the end. Which was a little disappointing, by the way: there is no final battle or anything like that, the wad just ends.

    But overall, good stuff. Nothing too amazing, but it's certainly worth a go.

  • Solitude - Matthew C. (Chubzdoomer)
    Ultimate Doom - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 50637 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Phobus
    This E2M2 replacement apparently dates back to 2008 and is one of Chubzdoomer's earliest works. From playing the map I have no idea why it claims to need ZDoom, and a quick poke around in Doom Builder 2 didn't shed any light on the subject. I'll assume that he only tested it in ZDoom and figured he'd play "better safe than sorry".

    Anyway: in short, I'm impressed. The map did a good job of actually managing to kill me on UV*, the monsters sprung a few nasty surprises on me (a spectre near the beginning actually made me jump!), and the overall look and feel of the thing is pretty in keeping with the original map itself. There are a few oddities, such as the light fixture that was made out of the sides of a crate in my second screen, and the secret area in the third screen having three "secret" sector specials in it rather than the one it should have, but overall it's quite a good package. My main proper complaints are that the secrets are all very easy to find, and that there is a small, but deep, pit on the side of a corridor that has a switch in it which raises the floor veeeery slowly to let you back out, which rather killed the pacing for a little, particularly as the single spectre in it is no real threat.

    Even so, I recommend that all of you who like a good, classic bit of Doom action check this out when you've got 5-10 minutes to spare. If this is anything to go by, his more recent work should be definitely worth a look-in too.

    *I ran into a pit without bothering to check if there was a way out and suffered a karmic death by nukage, if you must know!

  • Lightning Storm - MDCS
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 228347 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Remiel
    A fix of an edit of Enjay's redsky demo. Because nice things are unacceptable, this tasteful graphical alteration is transformed into a black flood-filled sky occasionally lit up with pencil-tool lightning bolts, the overcast red TNT sky rarely showing through in errant airbrushed patches. Appropriately, getting a good screenshot of this shit made me think of real lightning photography! Revolutionary improvements on the original MAPINFO work ensures every map is now called Red Sky and they'll all play whatever song D_RUNNIN happens to be. It also comes with a mostly-useless supplementary .wad that gives imps thunder noises, so a lot of maps now sound like the world is ending. On the other hand, that's kind of funny(?)

  • The Book of id - id Software (uploaded by convex)
    N/A - N/A - N/A - 9765934 bytes -
    Reviewed by: Phobus
    The Book of id is a scrapbook which was released in 1996 as part of the id Anthology. Whilst I question the legality of this scan being made freely downloadable to the public via /idgames, I'd dare say it's probably the only reasonable way to get hold of a copy these days. As far as reviewing this package is concerned, I'll say the scans are indeed high quality, although as it's the scan of a book, you do get a little blurring along the inner edges of most pages. I'm going to assume the whole book was published in black-and-white, rather than convex making it monochrome himself.

    The book itself is a 30-odd page history of id Software from its early origins as a couple of Softdisk employees moonlighting on unauthorised projects through to somewhere in the mid-point of the development of Quake 2. This (by now) well-known history is presented in a casual, somewhat humorous manner portraying it as a Lovecraftian tale of evil influences and unfathomable terrors. The overall 50-page length is mostly made up of stylised type-writing, edged with photos, sketches and snippets from various articles. The double page spreads are pretty nice, although they would benefit more from being viewed as 2 pages side-by-side than one page at a time (as I saw them in Adobe Reader).

    Overall I'd say this is a curiosity more than anything else. We've seen a lot of the pictures and read a lot of the history - but the people I'd imagine that would be most interested in collecting this sort of thing probably already have it, given that it's 16 years old. Any of you die-hard id nerds out there that managed to miss it can download this digital copy and the rest of us will carry on with our lives.

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.