The /newstuff Chronicles #437
Classic Doom - Posted by Bloodshedder
- 17 Comments
Let me guess; one of those reviewers doesn't know how to properly appreciate a WAD that you liked this week. Want to do something about it? Instead of complaining in the comment thread like you always do, perhaps you can make a difference and write some better reviews than those idiots up there. The /newstuff Review Center is the place to do so. Put that Doomworld Forums account to constructive use, because you need one to submit reviews.
Coop Zombies - boltface
Doom/Doom 2 - Skulltag / Zandronum - Co-op - 1955076 bytes
Reviewed by: someoneelse
Author took a bit more humorous and fine-tuned version of Captain Toenail's mod in which deceased coop partners become zombies, made it "more" humorous by making it unbalanced, adding more Tourettes Guy sounds, and making former marines spam "kamikazi" (sic) suicide bombers. Surprisingly, AI seems a lot worse than in the older versions. If the original wad and HeavenWraith's variant were hard to play on servers where random unskilled or trolling people could die at spawn massively, this version is completely unplayable and unfair. "Fist, chainsaw, and pistol zombies can summon [screamy bomb people] whenever they feel like it". Makes your server empty in minutes. Just one death, and soon your ears will be pierced by yell of dozens of suicide bombers trying to run to you through crates.
If you like the idea, use one of older versions. Unfortunately, this one is a waste of time.
Target: Tharsis - theJF
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 272877 bytes -
Reviewed by: CorSair
Target: Tharsis consists of two levels for Doom 2 in vanilla.
Texture work is pretty okay, if a tad repetitive in some parts, and we have a few misalignments popping up in some places. Architecture itself is quite good, with caverns and techbases, looking quite good.
As for the level design itself, the first level is linear, while the second gives you places to go, and you only need two keys to finish. I didn't have any problems with layout, and it seems to work as is.
Challenges offer mostly weak enemies, with a weak armory (mostly stuck with the pistol in the first level, shotgun in the second), and sometimes the big guys are called in. Luckily, it doesn't get out of the hand; mostly they are for support. A few places can give you some trouble, like three big pillars, arachnotrons and open space. You know how that can end, don't ya? ... Don't worry, we get some baddies to turn into meatshields. One nitpick I would like to point out is that some secrets spawn monsters in. While it is not common, it is still annoying to get a megasphere, and then spawn some revenants to piss you off and pick off your spoils. Second is that some ambushes are quite predictable and become quite old.
In summary: Target: Tharsis is quite good. While it's not excellent quality, ambushes get old and some areas don't exactly shine, it is still a solid set to enjoy. If you want a quick whack, you should check this.
Ragnor's Stronghold - Matt "cannonball" Powell
Evilution - Vanilla - Solo Play - 46986 bytes -
Reviewed by: Xangi
Ragnor's Stronghold is a map that oddly enough recommends the IWAD for TNT: Evilution, and describes itself as: "Birthday wad for Rangnor from Doomworld, leave your brain at home, this is the Die Hard of doom wads." I suppose that's pretty accurate, assuming you dislike Die Hard (which I do not).
The entire map overall is pretty small, and it certainly feels like it, since it's filled with literally four enemy types. You get Zombiemen, Shotgunners, Chaingunners and Imps, so I hope you like them. Early on you also manage to pick up both a parital invisibility and an SSG. You'd think, considering the abundance of hitscanners, that those two things would make this map fairly easy. You'd be half right. You see, this is the kind of map that rewards you for knowing the map, not for playing well. Nearly everything is a trap that can and will deplete you of a fair portion of your HP, and some encounters (specifically the yellow and blue keys) seem to be designed to kill the player at least once. The problem with this is that once you've triggered the trap once, it's so insanely easy to get out of the second time that it takes the challenge completely out of the map.
The map also rewards you not for playing offensively, but defensively. There isn't a whole lot of health considering the amount of nearly unavoidable hitscan damage, so you'll find yourself hiding around corners taking potshots at groups in order to minimize damage. You also generally want to run away from big groups, so every time you hear a door open you'll find yourself running to the nearest chokepoint so you can funnel the enemies down that nice hallway to avoid their hitscan bullets.
Also, the map's short. That's not inherently a bad thing, but the ending really comes out of nowhere. The map is clearly not awful, but it really needs some spicing up. A few Revenants and an Archvile would do wonders.
Stardate 20X6 - Ribbiks
Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 4995694 bytes -
Reviewed by: [WH]-Wilou84
Ribbiks' "Stardate 20X6" is a set of eight Boom-compatible maps (seven regular maps + 1 secret one in slot 31) which use purple as a dominant color. Purple is clearly uncommon in Doom maps considering the palette limitations, and here the wad relies on a custom palette which basically turns green stuff into purple: torches, slime, Hell nobles' attacks and blood, BFG9000 shots etc. It gives the wad a distinct look and a unique visual style.
Stardate 20X6's beta version was released on May 2013, after months of Ribbiks teasing the "post your Doom picture" thread crowd with short glimpses of what he had in store for us. However, Stardate's attractiveness wasn't only about its pretty visuals. Those (like me) who played Ribbiks' 3 Slaughterfest 2012 entries and watched some of his demos, most notably on (in)famous wads such as Insane_Gazebo's Sunder or dannebubinga's Combat Shock 2, knew that Ribbiks had become quite talented at making tough, gameplay-oriented challenging maps, and Stardate 20X6 certainly doesn't disappoint on that matter.
Instead of relying on high numbers of monsters to overwhelm the player, as what can be seen in the Slaughterfest series or in some Sunder levels, maps in Stardate 20X6 mostly feature more subtle - yet still very difficult - traps with smaller groups of enemies in relatively narrow areas, immediately putting the player under pressure. Most of the time, these battles start when you activate a switch or find an important item (a key, a new weapon etc.), and then you must find a working strategy to survive. Timed switches are revealed as the fights end, and the next areas are now within reach. I doubt many people could survive the traps on their first playthrough, considering how brutal they are.
While each map contains said set-piece locked traps, the flow always seem natural as the areas are nicely interconnected between them. More often than not, there are many paths to explore (e.g. two keys to gather in any order you want), making the maps appear less linear than they effectively are.
Ribbiks doesn't waste time in gradually introducing weapons and monsters, as right off the bat in map 01 you'll find all weapons up to the Plasma Gun and face a Cyberdemon at the end. One of the noticeable gameplay elements, though, is that the BFG9000 isn't introduced until the final map ("Magnus", the awe-inspiring black / purple behemoth, one of the most dazzling maps I've seen recently), and you'll have to deal with quite a few hordes equipped only with the RL and Plasma.
Despite the use of top-tier monsters all throughout these maps, I wouldn't call them "slaughtermaps" per se. In slaughtermaps, usually you don't have to worry much about ammo; there's almost always Cell Packs around (see Hell Revealed II map 32, Speed of Doom map 28, TimeOfDeath's "Supernib" etc.). The resources in Stardate 20X6 are carefully limited, and the monster count is reduced compared to most slaughtermaps. I'd say that Stardate 20X6 is in a grey zone somewhere between SkePLand (which uses even fewer monsters and extremely tight resources to achieve its intended difficulty) and Sunder / Combat Shock. In the later maps though, Stardate becomes borderline slaughter, the most offending parts being the nasty BFG9000 area in map 07 and the daunting last fight in map 06. It's also worth noting that some of the fights can be quite gimmicky, most notably when you have to use a Cyberdemon to kill all the other monsters (e.g. in a secret area in map 03 or with a bunch of Hell nobles in map 04).
I'm having a hard time looking for stuff to criticize in this project. The three things I'd rant at would be:
- The timed bars and switches, which are still a good way to make sure the player actually stays in the trap instead of running away, but are detrimental to speedrunning. Even if the maps aren't linear, timed traps don't work well with speedrun.
- Some secrets are actually more threatening than rewarding. Sometimes it's best to ignore trapped secrets altogether.
These two nitpicks are minor, but this one's more serious:
- Jumping / platforming sequences over "poles". Seriously, this is more annoying than fun, particularly when Chaingunners are revealed halfway through a sequence and if you have to go through damaging floor and redo the sequence all over again if you fall...
Even if the wad is hard, Ribbiks took some time to implement three skill levels: I'm Too Young To Die, Hurt Me Plenty, and Ultra-Violence, the latter being the intended experience. Playing on ITYTD is advised if you have trouble right from the first map. The monster counts aren't that much lower from HMP but ITYTD's settings (damage reduction and doubled ammo pick-ups) are certainly handy for less experienced players.
Visually, Stardate 20X6 ventures into quite an array of different themes, from space / gray / metal starbases to brown and amber underground caves, all featuring vibrant purple as the contrasting color. On that point I could say that I hoped to see more purple, particularly on the monsters (a purple Cacodemon would have been a nice touch for example :p). Brown is actually the color you'll see the most in Stardate 20X6. Nevertheless, the themes are all nicely crafted, and the wad features a lot of impressive vistas, thanks to a lot of height differences and open parts. Even with a restricted number of colors, the map themes are still diversified enough and never get boring. Some places, such as the Red keycard area in map 06, will undoubtedly evoke the massive architecture previously seen in Sunder or Combat Shock.
I found the music selection to be quite enjoyable. Despite coming from a lot of different sources, it's cohesive as a whole and gives some kind of surreal, upbeat sci-fi / space setting. The mysterious level names also help to give the wad a particular atmosphere.
Also worth mentioning is that the wad has been tested in Co-op mode, on both Zandronum and ZDaemon as far as I know, and it has been tweaked to be more multiplayer-friendly so that maps don't get unfinishable if someone dies in a particular trap.
Overall, I would encourage everyone to try and shed some blood in Stardate 20X6. It's clearly one of the best wads I've seen this year, and while it's not for the faint of heart, I'm sure everybody can find something they like in this wad; could it be its hardcore and genuinely-crafted gameplay, or its unique visuals and atmosphere. The wad will certainly bring many people to their limits, but they'll be glad they tried, as these maps are simply a wonderful experience. Stunning job Ribbiks, players who like hard and gameplay-oriented stuff will certainly keep an eye on your work.
[It's interesting to know that Ribbiks has shown a couple nice blue screenshots lately, maybe a sequel is in order... Who knows. :) Oh and by the way, while writing this I've noticed that Ribbiks also released a 4-map wad called Spoons, which also plays on colors. I completely missed that one, and sadly the Speedyshare link for the wad is now dead.]
Primary: Gold - Membrain/Scripten
Doom 2 - GZDoom - Solo Play - 2264106 bytes -
Reviewed by: Snakes
Primary: Gold is a single-map wad made for GZDoom that fancies itself as something of an adventure. This simultaneously give it strengths and weaknesses inherent with the concept.
The gameplay tends to be something of a linear slog which routinely switches between cramped areas and open battles. That's all good and well, but an issue arises when it becomes apparent that the monsters were sort of thrown together without much thought as to what function they serve throughout. This means things start to feel redundant, and as it isn't an exceptional experience, the second half of the map really starts to drag a good deal. What's more, the final showdown is an area that'll really make you work if you want to die.
Visually, it's a step above mediocre. The outdoor areas tend to be more interesting than the indoor ones, as the author doesn't put as much effort into shoving detail into unnecessary places and instead lets the landscape do the talking. The transformation of the map as you move from base to cave to hell was, I thought, done decently enough. It's sort of reminiscent of the original Half-Life in its design as you move from point A to point B and never see a single area twice save for one or two moments. Certainly, it does give the impression of being an adventure, but it's nothing that hasn't been done before.
Overall, I'd say this is a decent map to download if you have a half-hour of time to kill. You more than likely won't be blown away by either aspect of it, but the total package is solid. If nothing else, you'll have some decent music to go along for the ride.
Monochrome Mapping Project - Various
Doom 2 - GZDoom - Solo Play - 5859681 bytes -
Reviewed by: Snakes
As I look to the near-future, I foresee a thread on Doomworld asking about the pros and cons of community projects. When that thread is created, I will not give an elaborate essay in response, nor will I give some sort of über-sarcastic response. I'll simply provide a link to Monochrome Mapping Project and be on my merry way.
The concept is fairly interesting - a bare-bones approach to color and texturing in an attempt to force the player to think more about the map design and unique ideas than about ultra-detail. I like the sound of that. And hey! There are some maps that absolutely follow through on that premise and create a great, surreal/immersive experience.
Whether it be Map01's surreal moving flats 'n walls, the straight-up Doom feel of Map05 and the efforts of Membrain, or the downright awesome city-fun time that is Map18 and Map21 (that latter of which had shades of the classic Doom City), there's no denying that some of these get the feeling just right. It's worth noting that these efforts are typically those that take term "monochrome" to heart. Custom textures of pure black 'n white are used creatively in such a way that you can actually see wacky landscapes start to form. It's moments like Map21's automobiles that make you smile and realize that you're actually enjoying yourself. Even the gggMadness that is Map17 had me crack a smile.
That being said, the bad stuff is just as jarringly frustrating to have a go at. Some of them had potential at one point, but they squandered it one way or another. Mystery switches are abundant. Bland room-and-corridor layouts are implemented. Space becomes a luxury. Heck, Map19 actually reminded me of Killing Adventure without the fun, and that's saying something.
One thing that I did find slightly odd about the bad maps is that almost all of them limited their imaginations. Instead of creating interesting concepts out of a simple idea, they elected instead to take shades of black and white and slap them around a sub-standard layout. It's severely disappointing to see that among the giants that are the best of this wad.
All in all, I can say with confidence that is this is a wad where the bad stuff is BAD, but the good stuff is great. That makes for something worth downloading and playing. Trust me: you'll know which maps are which.
Voxel Vehicles Pack 1.0 - NerdKoopa
N/A - ZDoom / GZDoom - N/A - 4144650 bytes -
Reviewed by: CorSair
This is a resource pack containing numerous amounts of different vehicles. Want trucks? American ones are not available due to limitations, but Euro models certainly are. Boats? Yeah, this pack has a few of them, either in hovercraft model or standard powerboat. Or cars. We got vans, estate cars, 60's cars, rice cups [Ed: ???], and probably few others I don't remember. Utility vehicles, like forklifts, excavators and tractors are available too.
So all sorts of vehicles, with all sorts of colors (if possible; not guaranteed to have your favorite color). If you plan to make ZDoom or GZDoom based maps, you might consider taking a few of the vehicles in this pack to make it a bit livelier.
C'mon bro, I got tigerblood! - Chris Hansen
Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 168821 bytes -
Reviewed by: Rambosee
Never judge a wad by its title. Looking through /newstuff and seeing "C'mon bro, I got tigerblood!" and then reading "Free Charlie Sheen's mind from all his demons and be a total freaking rockstar from Mars!" in the text file I automatically assumed something along the lines of Mock 2: The Speed of Stupid. And oh boy was I proven wrong.
So what's up with this wad? The author wrote that he wanted to make a level that kept changing its layout as the player progressed, which means a lot of lowering floors and walls... and some nasty surprises, while being fun as heck to play. And I say he did exactly what was promised.
From the first steps until the last steps, the level changes in many ways catching the player off guard and in a bad spot. Upon exiting the starting area and picking up your starting weapon, the area suddenly becomes not so safe, as the entire area transforms and you suddenly find yourself surrounded. The level follows this style of transformation through the entire map, and most of the time you have no idea when or what will appear. The transformations are smooth and the level looks neat, allowing you to focus on the hellspawn that came out of that lowering wall/floor/something. And the traps...
The traps in this map will catch a lot of people off guard due to how well they were designed. In one of the areas, I pressed a switch, which activated an object in front of me. I went to it, not realizing a trap was activated along with it. Before I knew it, I was pinned. I tried hiding behind the object, but the placement of the monsters was made so that one could see you at all times if you tried hiding behind it, putting a no cover situation in place which had me do some mad strafing in order to stay alive. Another time I wandered past an area with monsters into another route, hoping to stock up before heading back into the monster area, only to get teleported right in the middle of that monster room.
The verdict? This one-level wad focused on transformations and fun does it right. Visuals are nice, progression is excellent, and the transformations and traps are really well designed. The wad takes about 10-15 minutes to complete, so pick it up and play whenever!
Chemical Experiment - Jake Horio
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 307109 bytes -
Reviewed by: Snakes
The first thing you need to know about Chemical Experiment is that it is designed for ZDoom. There's nothing to indicate this in the .txt file, nor is it located in /ports section of the /idgames archive.
With that out of the way, Chemical Experiment is a large, single map that is either piss-poor or below-average on every front. Given that this is a first-time author, that's to be expected and normally I'd forgive it, but triggering the very first switch brings with it the risk of getting pinned between two torches and unable to move.
Things don't get much better from there - you'll fight arch-viles in corridors, encounter cyberdemons floating in the sky in a regretfully non-surreal manner, and traverse some of the most frustrating lifts in the history of Doom. The gameplay is frustrating in the worse sort of way on account of Mr. Horio's decision to make this hard for all of the wrong reasons. There's no real progression to speak of, and as such, it's extremely difficult to even play the map past the first few rooms.
The visuals are something one should expect from a first-timer. Misalignments everywhere, unannounced theme changes, texture mismatches... the whole thing is rough around the edges, to put it nicely. There's a lot of high-concept ideas here that could be interesting to explore if the author refines his craft and revisits them later (the aforementioned sky-battle is something that could be intriguing if executed properly, the "Open Season" inspired nukage 'n metal area), but as is, it's simply not worth the time and effort it takes to reach these areas.
In conclusion, this is not a wad that I can recommend. It's only something for the true enthusiasts and those appreciate first-time efforts. Otherwise, steer clear of Chemical Experiment.
party at chesse20's house - chesse20
Hexen - Skulltag / Zandronum - Solo Play - 20105 bytes
Reviewed by: Eligitine
For those who don't know chesse20, he is a notorious troll who got banned a few months back from Steam forums. All of them. Now that he's entering into mapping, with a Hexen wad no less, I thought he might have changed. He did, if only slightly.
The first map is a linear level, if you were to call it that. It is not properly set up for classes, and the poor textures and lack of height changes make it extremely bland, not to mention easy. It's a straight run to the exit, with little to no combat required.
The second map is not much better, with extremely poor monster placement and the same poor texture usage.
It must be said however that for a first map, he did... okay, with (poor) traps and doors. All in all, I wouldn't recommend playing this, but I do have to congratulate chesse20 for a step in the right direction.
UAC Military Nightmare 2 - Jack101
Doom 2 - Skulltag / Zandronum - Solo Play - 62430706 bytes
Reviewed by: Rampage470
Let's start with the obvious: yes, it's a sequel to the infamous UAC Military Nightmare wad by Terry, the master of muck. However, it is far more than a bunch of rape jokes repeated over and over. (In fact, so far, there have been 1, maybe 2. Admittedly that's not saying much since I've only gotten 2 levels in, but still. For a wad based on a Terry wad, that's an accomplishment.) In fact, to make my life easier, I'm just going to list the good and the bad.
Makes fun of the predictable nature of Terry wads at the beginning.
Smooth custom animations.
Some custom skins, sounds, and weapons. (A flamethrower in Doom? YES!)
Actually possible to beat without cheats (Except on the hardest difficulty, which is called UACMN Classic, where everything kills you in one hit).
When it's funny, it's really quite funny.
Voice acting. Good at times, bad at times.
Takes itself too seriously at some points.
Remember earlier when I said that when it's funny, it's really quite funny? Well, when it's not funny, it makes you want to rip out your brain and erase it.
Will not work on Zandronum. Something about a railgun being replaced.
So yeah. Good for what it is (certainly more tolerable than the first), but you probably won't be playing more than once or twice.
Garretty - Retog
Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 273594 bytes
Reviewed by: BloodyAcid
Retog's Garretty offers three new maps, custom textures and music, but fails to leave a favourable impression from boring gameplay and bland design. Boxy rooms lead to more boxy rooms, each either bland on its own or featuring small doses of quirky detailing. Many areas are monotonously flat, with interconnecting areas usually cramped and narrow. There are texturing mishaps pretty frequently, and lack of actual architecture. I'd recommend working on actual room structure and interconnectivity rather than letting custom textures do the aesthetic work.
The gameplay isn't much better, with painfully predictable monster closets or large rooms spammed with monsters. Abundant ammo made for easy challenge alongside a few coat racks full of armor.
Doom 2 in a Nutshell - Invertcube and dpImagine
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 1505074 bytes -
Reviewed by: Cacatou
Doom 2 in a Nutshell. The WAD, as the name implies, intended to compress Doom 2 by applying a restriction. Rather than combining the maps into one as Memorial did, this mapset attempts to recreate the original with the restriction of keeping the playable areas in the map restricted to a 1024x1024 square, or in the case of larger maps, 1536x1536 or 2048x2048. As with the Claustrophobia 1024 projects, inaccessible decorative areas were allowed outside this space. What makes this megawad more interesting is the fact that the mappers were both first-timers when they originally began this project, which was abandoned and left to die before being resurrected out of the blue.
Monster counts are generally kept similar to the original, which in the limited space leads to a reasonable increase in difficulty. In this regard, some maps are far more dangerous than their counterparts. For instance, MAP16 suffers from hindered movement which can make the waves, which are already formidable (by DOOM 2 standards), into feeling truly overwhelming. Of course, the restrictions bring out their own endearing quirks. For instance, MAP06 and 20 both have to replace their high-end monsters by less bulky ones. Secrets are still rife and are similar but different as entailed by the restrictions; the chainsaw in MAP01 is a good example.
The WAD includes new custom teleport flats, which can be buggy in some ports as the readme says; however, playing in GZDoom, I encountered no such issues. The lack of custom music can easily be explained away due to the fact it is a recreation, but it would have been epic to have shorter versions of the tracks in order to contribute to the claustrophobic feel.
Overall Judgment: A good WAD that brings back the nostalgic feel of Doom 2 while the restrictions cause a romp in difficulty that will definitely keep you on your toes. Highly recommended.
Inertia - Obsidian
Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 89781 bytes -
Reviewed by: CorSair
As the description says, it's a small Boom-compatible map.
According to the file notes, this map consists mostly of textures under the "Wood" category. If rather limited and dull, the texture work is decent enough.
Level design is very tight, claustrophobic to be precise, so dodging is quite limited. Other than that, you're given two options for which way to go; either way you need two keys to proceed.
Map is quite tough, and as if size wasn't enough to be a problem, there are a few dick moves (like the room with the demon trap, closing the door behind you if you aren't careful), but tough enemies are mostly limited to single digits. But the arch-vile trap is just awful, with no powerful weapons, or ammo is too low. Better just rush for the exit. (I guess that was the intention?)
In summary, it's done in five minutes or so and too cramped, but it's all right.
The Abandoned Labs - TheNooBringeR
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 45282 bytes -
Reviewed by: Obsidian
A map for ZDoom that smells like 1994. Heh, that's probably the best way I can describe this thing, and I reckon the screenshots support that well enough. The whole affair is basically your average "room-to-room" gig, and the gameplay isn't the most stellar either. The best thing I can advise is to follow these tips:
1. Simplify: try make some maps in vanilla Doom, or Boom if you struggle a bit with limitations. Try making ZDoom maps again when you've got map structure down pat and you'll be a bit more successful. This might be just my personal opinion, but I've seen quite a few mappers that start with ZDoom as their source port of choice and end up making some utter monstrosities.
2. Look at some of the more well-known vanilla and Boom megawads for inspiration. Some of the early wads like Memento Mori might be a good start to introduce you to good map structure without too much needless detail. Structure is imperative: you can get away with sparse detail if the map flows and plays well.
The verdict for this map? It's not the greatest, I'll say that much. The author is still learning though, and we all went through this phase at one point. The best thing I can recommend is to keep trying and keep learning. Peace out.