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The /newstuff Chronicles #481

  • Abandoned Misery - Nicholas "Tiger" Gautier
    Doom 2 - GZDoom - Deathmatch - 1.3 MB -
    Reviewed by: scifista42
    A fancy-designed deathmatch map... which only works in GZDoom, and not any of actual multiplayer-centered ports. It has visual glitches in software renderer, and even Zandronum refuses to launch it due to a DECORATE problem.

    The map is literally overloaded with eye-candy effects, such as fog, falling rain, reflective floors, reflective walls, 3D floors and dynamic lights, all of them in every room! Almost every room, to be fair. The author addresses this in the text file, listing console variables which can help you disable some of the effects. I played the map in singleplayer with no opponents, disabled thing-based dynamic lights, in a resolution of only 640x480, and the map still lagged heavily. I think that says something.

    That said, both visual appearance and level design come close to being top impressive. The map takes place in a massive gothic-themed (and somewhat Quake 3-styled) multi-floor castle, where a strong rain strikes the surface of a lake below the castle's outside; the castle itself is full of gore and torches and metal bars and ominousness and... silver jump pads? Those seem a little unfitting, but at least they work as intended and actually enhance the gameplay. The map is accompanied by an impressive "high definition" remake of Doom 2 MAP10's music track, which does fit a deathmatch atmosphere.

    Weapon and item placement, as well as the layout, and of course the 3D structure and jump pads, all clearly resemble Quake 3. Which is partly great, partly not so much. The most commonly found weapon is a chaingun, and there are a few single shotguns thrown in as well. SSG, RL and PG aren't missing, they're just less frequent. Given how the map's rooms and areas are relatively large scaled, and how much movement in 3D space is used, the map wouldn't play as fast paced as classic Doom deathmatch does, because classic Doom deathmatch is less about sniping opponents from distance and more about face-to-face SSG fragfest. But for a Quake 3-style deathmatch, this map seems awesome.

  • 32in24-14: How the Hamburglar Stole Christmas - The 32in24 Team!
    Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 13.51 MB -
    Reviewed by: Csonicgo
    With 32in24 now being a notable series in Doom community history, and with 32in24 being a friggin' masterpiece from the first installment, SP megawads should be easy-peasy. And thus 32in24 II: Single Player was born. The build time? 24 hours for layouts, and YEARS worth of compilers sitting on their asses, mostly to delay the inevitable /newstuff evisceration. It was finally leaked to the archives by Hampton C. Burglar earlier this year. And it sucks. Hard.

    The result put such a bad taste in the mouths of the people involved that SP was never tried again.

    Until Diet 32in24... er... *shuffles papers*

    Until now.

    32in24-14 promises Christmas, burgers, assburgers, half-meat pizzas, penises, and a progressive INTERPIC. Oh, and 42 maps, plus a story that goes somewhat like this:

    YEDS, the Yeoman Engineers and Designers of Software, presumably from Aberdeen, have made the perfect Royal Burger Tower with the best bacon ever cut and buns too perfect to slap. Chef Mechacook, designer of the burger tower, decides to awaken the god "Shaitoken" in celebration of Christmas. Everything was going as planned. The burger was to be transported cross-country, with 48 decoy burgers for protection, as the evil demon "Hamburglar" would be too confused by the tasty dummy-meals to attack the True Burger. Unfortunately, the Hamburglar hot-wired the delivery truck on the way to the temple, wolfed down seven of the decoys, and took the remaining burger booty to his lair for "quality assessment." You must stop the Hamburglar from eating the burger meant for the gods...

    Did you get all that? No? Don't worry, the Hamburglar was caught with Joe-Ilya in the men's room of a McDonald's before he could even begin, so enjoy the 42 remaining burger worlds.

    First off, let's start with the bad parts. The text file admits that difficulty levels are "halfheartedly implemented". This is true. There are some maps that are easy as hell on HMP but will purposefully forget the lube on UV. Some maps, like JC's "Let it Snow" and Tango's "Chapel of Christmas", will attempt to set you on fire no matter what skill level you try. RottKing's map, "Winterfresh Gum Dictatorship", throws at you a cyberdemon, an arch-vile, and an annoying pack of revenants simultaneously. On ITYTD. And MAP32... Let's say it's a ghost pepper burger.

    The good parts? These maps flow like gravy in your arteries from Christmas dinner. Every death I experienced was largely due to my flow being interrupted by something I didn't expect, like David Hasselhoff midis. Other than some people just loving the Egypt textures a little too much, this was a solid wintry-themed mapset with some extra themes thrown in for good measure. The flow was helped by the fact that most of the maps used previous 32in24 maps made for deathmatch, so much of the work was interlocking already awesome layouts.

    In fact, I can spin the lack of difficulty levels into a positive. Just play these all on ITYTD. That way, you can survive some of the hardest levels through less damage taken and double ammo. You won't feel any less of a badass, and it probably saves some of the harder maps from being overly difficult to the slightly-above-average Doomer. I attempted to play these "honestly" from start to finish with a normal difficulty setting until hours passed and I had died too many times to count. So don't feel bad if you can't fit your mouth on each burger on your first go. Unhinge your jaw like a snake and claim your territory, or just get a friggin' knife. Either way, eat the hell out of it!

    In conclusion, I recommend playing this mapset immediately, followed by a burger, fries, and a chocolate shake. If you happen to come across MAP32 in your travels, please let us know how the pavement tastes.

  • Random Deaths & Decoration v1.5 Final - Mr. Chris
    Doom/Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - N/A - 12.59 MB
    Reviewed by: Csonicgo
    This WAD is advertised as a "random deaths and decorations" mod, which may be hit or miss depending on your tastes. Personally, I think randomly mirrored deaths is pretty awesome. However, this mod also changes some things I don't like, and there's no way to turn these off.

    Graphically, the newly added deaths and decorations can be a mixed bag. Different art styles, different shading techniques, some deaths that are clearly walking frames rotated 90 degrees with some pixels shifted - these varying degrees of quality put the experience as a mixed bag. Also, this might be a GZDoom bug, but I could have sworn I saw some of the moving bodies on stakes switch sides and stay in one direction. I loaded up the test wad supplied with the pack, and, sure enough, this happens.

    Most monsters don't "run in place" anymore, such as the cyberdemon and arachnotron, who bop along as if to music. Some monsters aren't the right color - cacodemons are a maroon color, for instance, and while it's just aesthetics, it really is a letdown that there aren't different shades of red for them. Can't turn this off.

    Graphics have been "smoothed" but contain no real key frames, no slow-outs or slow-ins, so the attack frames on most monsters look like bad stop motion. Can't turn this off.

    And then there are some graphics edits like the lost soul, which looks like something punched it in the face. It's nitpicky, but I don't like the way it looks, and there's no way to turn it off.

    In fact, that's my primary problem with this wad - no custom switches. What if I just wanted different decorations? I can't really do that. Just mirrored corpses? Can't do that. What if I didn't want the Baron of hell to animate like a robot? I cannot change that.

    I would love to like this, and I want to, but I can't, given that it does way more than is advertised, does it poorly, and exhibits bugs in the intended source port. Combine this with no way to toggle effects, and I can safely say to NOT bother with this wad until the offending material is either removed, fixed, or made toggle-able.

  • Ghosts of Pingfang - Jesse Proctor
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 26.41 MB -
    Reviewed by: Chezza
    Where to begin. Hmm... It's difficult to write a detailed review for something with so much potential, yet followed by so much disappointment.

    PingFang, a five-level wad with only one unique map. It's about Unit 731 locating a portal to a strange dimension haunted by past ghosts of soldiers, women and children in torment. They are all hostile of course, and are your primary enemy.

    This wad contains custom weapons with reloading, and all have a stupid alternate fire mode. The animations are very basic but it didn't bother me, except the single frame reloading was a bit too obvious. The guns aren't very satisfying either, but the alternate firing mode I mentioned is the real offender. It's a suicide button. That's right, if you have your knife it will make you commit harakiri, and every gun you will point at your own chest and one shot kill yourself. But perhaps this serves an interesting purpose? Maybe it's a way out of the undead dimension and finishes either the campaign or level? Nope, as the author states, it's "just for curiosity". By God. I mistakenly used it twice and had to start all over again.

    This is nothing compared to the level design. You are introduced to a VERY dark maze. Yeah, that's a great way to gain the player's favor and first impressions. The first map is long, tedious, and provides poor pacing. You are often running around confused, and if you choose to explore, you get punished with dead ends, or you run into these very small, hard to spot mines that instantly kill you. The monsters are very poor quality transparent sprites, which wouldn't usually bother me, except the strange choice of dark, really dark, and dark red rooms doesn't do them any good. There are too few bright sections of the level. Overall I died seven times before finally moving on to the next level. It was a painful experience. And guess what, levels 2 to 5 were total rip offs of the original Doom 2 maps, but with some different textures and monster replacements. Very poor effort there.

    But here is what had potential:
    During the beginning while you're exploring these dark tunnels, you hear screams at a distance with sinister sounding musical beats playing. Occasionally messages appear such as "you hear screams echoing at a distant" (but too short to read all the messages in time), and it effectively creates a unique evil atmosphere. So kudos there.

    There are also some other noteworthy features, such as a breakable wall that slightly reveals what's on the other side. There are also custom weapons, upgrades, and custom monsters. I wanted to go easy on this wad for the effort invested into it but... it's no good. It's a below mediocre at best, and that's mostly for the unique assets and ideas in the first level, but overall there isn't a single person I would recommend this wad to. Totally a major disappointment.

  • Antaresia - antares031
    Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Deathmatch - 4.12 MB -
    Reviewed by: scifista42
    Antaresia is a 20-level deathmatch mapset that also contains a bonus single player map in the MAP30 slot and a secret joke map in the MAP32 slot. The levels use awesome custom music, sound, texture and sprite resources, and even DEHACKED replacements for the Pistol, Chainsaw (MAP32 only), and monsters (MAP30 only).

    The deathmatch levels are compact, very well-detailed, well-designed, and well-balanced for a fast paced newschool deathmatch game. Their main distinctive feature is the ever-present blue color. All levels are textured blue excessively, so much so that your eyes may start to hurt after awhile. Blue is a vivid color, and the maps include lots of lighting contrast, which is great by itself - but as a result, all non-blue colors in the map are jarring, especially brown (frequently used for border lines and filler detailing on floors), especially while you're running through the map quickly. The texturing was also repetitive in most of the maps, but still impressive.

    The single player map had a cool visual style (using non-blue colors!), but was thoroughly unimpressive and unbalanced. With entirely symmetrical layout and LITERALLY linear progression, the fights were either skippable or the enemies were ridiculously powerful. All in all, unengaging and unfun.

    I wouldn't choose to play deathmatch on this wad due to the eye-unpleasantness, which (I feel) would get worse the more I'd play. The levels are otherwise very well-designed, and you might enjoy playing on them.

  • Abyssal Speedmapping Sessions: Session 16 - Various
    Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 1.4 MB -
    Reviewed by: Chezza
    **Disclosure** On the later levels I resorted to cheating; while I respect the time (although speed mapping, quite impressive) and effort put into their maps, I found it too difficult and a chore to invest in constantly restarting to finish the wad. I can be picky with what sort of difficulty I will put all my time into.

    Abyssal Speedmapping Session 16 eh? Well this is the first time I've played any speed maps before, and I expected mostly rushed generic maps; however, for the most part I'm impressed. Quite impressed even. I mean, if every map in this wad was created in just two hours, then what sort of content do these guys produce when they have all the time they need? Some maps have great aesthetics (see image 1) considering the conditions.

    Of course, there are quite a few contributors to this wad, and the detail and quality vary, but the first map was quite competent, and the following two kept improving. I think these mappers are the experienced sort.

    Now do note, this Wad also carries some of that... Doom humor (see images 2 and 3) some of our beloved community seems to wear like a badge of pride. It's actually not overly done though; the images I posted are the craziest content I found. It actually helps you snap out of that constant focused Doom mode that can exhaust you. It's good to stop and take a breather.

    As I mentioned in my disclosure, I found the maps quite difficult. It was very manageable for the first 6six or so maps, and the number of enemies was mostly 80+. However, these mappers quite clearly love their Chaingunners and Revenants in painful situations. Naturally they also act as turrets within vast landscapes that warrant free mouse look (see image 4), but also ambush you via double teleport traps. If it's not them then it's moments I get locked in a box with a handful of Imps on either side and four Hell Knights in front of me, giving me very little space to dodge. These were in the early levels though; it's the second half of the levels that became a painfully difficult slaughter-fest (see images 6 and 7).

    I might be giving off more of a negative vibe than I should. But don't let me deter you, as I'm pretty impressed with their efforts. I mean just look at the screenshots: these were made in two hours or less, and yet I do believe they're more detailed and well designed than most content submitted. I legitimately had lots of fun until I got to the point I stressed far more than I enjoyed. I would love to see more content from these guys, particularly projects they invested all their knowledge and time into.

    Oh and before I forget. Loved the music! And textures really improved the aesthetics. Some maps were a bit dark, but at least we all have the option to increase brightness. The music though, got me all hyped since map 1.

    Enjoy bit of a challenge? This may be right up your alley! It's still easier than some of the other slaughter maps I've played.

  • Valiant - Paul "skillsaw" DeBruyne
    Doom 2 - MBF Compatible - Solo Play - 24.42 MB -
    Reviewed by: Chezza
    Valiant, an epic Megawad filled with 32 highly-detailed, top quality and challenging maps. It carries a story within the intermission of its five chapters and contains (custom) old school video game music. What I loved in particular, in addition to the amazing looking maps, are the unique textures and added/replaced monsters with a couple modified guns. These really helped sparked my interest in the first place. I'm a sucker for new Doom content, especially when used well, and the author known as "skillsaw" has most definitely done a great job (see image 1).

    My first impression of the wad was "wow"; I was in awe of the scenery. The terrain, the grass, the trees, and the hanging vines really made the environment amazing. Up until now I thought it was impossible to make decent outdoor maps that don't look like trash in the Doom engine. It appears I have much to learn (see images 2 and 3).

    The themes can be a little repetitive, but do vary. Don't be mistaken, as there are some really unique environments (see images 4 to 6). However, you will only notice significant between chapters. This perception could be due to the map sizes, as they can be quite large and time consuming if you don't rush through them (which I don't). Fortunately a majority of the maps are well designed; there were very few moments I felt lost and had to backtrack to get a sense of direction. An example would be where I found a switch that requires a yellow key card: I turn around to see a higher platform carrying it, therefore I knew roughly where I had to go. I also like to praise Valiant for its good use of secrets which were well hidden but visible to the observant player. They were mostly in the form of breaks in a wall pattern and buttons to shoot at a distance.

    Now here comes the part I wasn't so happy with. Please do understand this is my perception and I'm not mocking the quality whatsoever. This is my review, hence my subjective point of view.

    My biggest issue with Valiant was the gradually overwhelming difficulty that begins to take the joy away and becomes pure challenge. Like most modern megawads, the difficulty always starts higher than the classic Doom levels, which makes total sense, considering the modern controls and years of experience we have. However, only the first couple of chapters had a manageable level of stressful situations. The following chapters felt like a chore, and I was beginning to dread the next encounter, as it would surely involve another set of numerous long distance, fast shooting turret monsters mixed with a high number of Revenants teleport ambushing all around me. This became consistent, especially the traps that I call "dick-moves" that are unexpected, give you little wiggle room, and either hit you really hard or kill you. The wad eventually becomes more of a trial and error sort of game and won't throw you a bone unless it's followed up by an even more intense moment.

    I also don't understand why the author states that each map was designed for a pistol start when in so many levels you get ambushed by a large number of difficult monsters and only medkits and ammunition are available. Perhaps it was a typo and he meant each chapter instead, because in that regard the weapon placement was done very well.

    Finally there was a slaughtermap I believe in chapter 3 (see image 7) with about 1700+ monsters. Now that was an extreme challenge. Unfortunately, I hated the map; I suppose slaughter-maps are just not my thing. Who is supposed to do the slaughtering anyway? I ran and died far more than I slaughtered. I did eventually finish the map with 100% completion, but it took me well over an hour and drained my life, along with all the remaining interest to continue playing. Nonetheless I did fight on, and the following levels still became painfully difficult but temporarily felt like child's play. I think I unlocked a secret level too; it has an Egyptian theme and was pretty fun. Then a couple maps later I realized perhaps these maps aren't designed to be completely cleared out--maybe that's for bragging rights? So I played the remainder of levels as fast as possible regardless of my stats.

    Overall, Valiant is a damn amazing megawad with breathtaking scenery and brilliant map design, with just the right balance of custom content to keep it fresh. It's also a very challenging one, but still not the most difficult. Despite the struggle I had playing it a few days straight, I felt like I owed it to the wad to finish it from start to finish without cheating or skipping. I have recently jumped into Doom mapping myself and have learned much from Paul Skillsaw's work, and was even inspired. Congratulations on an amazing project mate, as it's definitely a must play.

  • A Party Downstairs - Jacek "JudgeDeadd" Dobrzyniecki
    Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 334.2 KB -
    Reviewed by: scifista42
    A single map, a relatively large techbase in a modern style. It looks pretty great despite using stock Doom 2 textures, plays well, and proves to be challenging in many places. The mapper put decent effort toward texturing, lighting and detail, as well as architecture and monster encounters. The layout is expansive and corridor-heavy (with some long backtracking involved), but there are a lot of big unique rooms; height variation and interesting set piece battles are also present. The music is mostly quiet, making the map somewhat atmospheric.

    All in all, the map gave me a good impression. I enjoyed it, and I can recommend it to anyone who likes techbases.

  • Chex rescue - Ilya "Joe" Lazarev
    Chex Quest - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 179.78 KB -
    Reviewed by: Csonicgo
    NOTE: This needs the original Chex Quest IWAD to play. Chex Quest 3 won't work.

    It's not often that we see Chex Quest maps - I'm not sure if that's due to lack of ideas, that it's free of rip-n-tear gore the kids love these days, or that CQ maps themselves were unlike any other maps out there, requiring a different configuration of brain cells to exploit properly the resources to make fun maps.

    Joe-Ilya may have found his niche here.

    When most of us think of Chex Quest maps, we think of boxy structures, simple yet fun gameplay, cavernous sections, lots of ammo (since flemoids don't drop any), and lots of open space contrasted with cramped crate areas. Joe nails all of these in the first four levels, although the pacing could've been better at the start. Every map past E1M1 gave me the weapons I needed Icon Of Sin style, instead of giving me a reward for my efforts of surviving the start of each level from pistol start. They still flow nicely, even though they feel a little short.

    E1M9 is supposed to be reachable, but I couldn't find it, so I warped to it instead. Boring gameplay, plasma spam everywhere. Pass.

    Then E1M5 happened, and I turned off my computer. Had to Joe this up somehow, I guess. M5 consists of a flat surface with animated slime textures, BFG with tons of ammo, and tons of lower-level flemoids. Fun rapidly declining.

    After E1M5, the player is greeted with E1M6, a box filled with demon and baron replacements with only a plasma rifle. What? This doesn't belong in here, and brings the rest of the maps down with it!

    If you really wanna see these maps, only play the first four. The final two maps and the secret level are essentially slaughter/troll maps that serve no purpose but to make the player BFG/plasma spam like a newbie, because that's the only way to win those levels. Not sure what Joe-Ilya is trying to prove here, but it failed. These levels are not difficult, but tedious and numbing.

    What was once promising just comes across as four short levels plus three stupid levels that are the opposite of enjoyable. Do not play them unless you want to see how bad they truly are. For a mapper who has plenty of contributions under his belt, I expected something more than this.

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.