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The /newstuff Chronicles #524

  • Shrooms - Albertoni
    Doom 2 - Single Player - ZDoom Compatible - 3.46 MB -
    Reviewed by: Csonicgo
    I really wanted to like Shrooms. I really did. Unfortunately, the mapper didn't want that to happen. I suppose the malicious, coordinated attack on my ears, eyes, and soul was well deserved, knowing that I would eventually pick this one up out of curiosity. But did I deserve this? This WAD physically hurt me.

    Oh, you think I'm kidding. That I'm using that literary hyper-bowl. Friends, this is not the case. I had to stop playing for a while so my eyes could regain trust that I was still on the firmament. My ears wanted to deafen to stop the horrendous music, which sounds awful no matter how I choose to play it.

    Let's get on with this, shall we? Gameplay is unbalanced as fuck. Aesthetically, it feels like specks of dirt in your contact lenses. The music is sonic trash. The level design varies from 1994 to "hey, I bet I can make a level for this new ZDoom port!" If this had been released in 1998, I still would have thrashed this thing, because it pulls the WORST of the terrible ZDoom mapping cliches: Dense, purple fog.

    This is why GZDoom was "recommended", I take it. It's too bad, because that purple looks like garbage regardless. Using a hardware accelerated video card with this WAD does not mask the terrible, puke-inducing colors of obnoxious purple and green. And to top it off, there is a red so dark you can barely see imp fireballs.

    The levels try to pull a few jump scares/a few "cinematic" bits, but they are implemented so poorly that they immediately break any sort of immersion that could possibly exist. Teleporting me to a box with horizon lines in it for a split second as I walk down a hallway does not scare me, especially when I can see the setup in front of my face. All that tells me is that you know how to use silent teleports. The Z height didn't even change! So I fall down into the "scary room" and then my momentum I had building goes to shit as I'm teleported back, Doomguy-oofs-and-all. There wasn't even a music change, or a sound effect, it just... happened! Imagine if Doom 3 jump scares had puppet strings visible on the monsters and some duct tape on some of the cardboard cutouts that made the "scenery" of the Hell flashbacks while Betruger was laughing. That's what this feels like.

    And then one of your maps somehow breaks ZDoom so bad that I think I will have to report it as a legitimate rendering bug - how did anyone not catch this?

    This really feels like a 1998 WAD with some ZDoom scripting tacked on. While some of the environments feel "huge", that's the only thing that's notable - unless you walk off the center path a bit and find beginner's mistakes like midtex fences eating through the floor!

    Oh, and the later levels are so dark to be unplayable. Just to make sure it wasn't just ZDoom, I played it with GZDoom, and it still looked the same. I have no idea how this happened, I just want to forget I ever played it.

    That's a good idea. Forget it. Don't play this.

  • Sparta 2 - Project vesuvius - Matt "cannonball" Powell
    Doom 2 - Single Player - Boom Compatible - 3.9 MB -
    Reviewed by: gaspe
    Sparta 2 - Project vesuvius is a megawad by Cannonball, and this time for Doom 2, contrary to the mapper's preference of making wads for Ultimate Doom. It's the sequel to Sparta, which I didn't play to be honest, but it seems that the only bond between the two wads is that they share the same concept of being collections of scrapped maps. This is a mapset of difficult levels; even in the first few maps you'll have a challenge, which grows as the levels progress into slaughter scenarios for the most part. Every map has its different things from the others that makes the wad more varied, at least to a certain extent.

    My biggest complaint is that many situations end up the same: arch-viles spawn behind you or in nearby areas, and combos of Afrits + Pain Eelementals. Regarding the Afrits, there are also the Evil Marines that everyone hates; both were originally featured in Scythe 1 and 2. I don't dislike their addition to the wad, but I must say that I liked more how they were used in Scythe 2. Other negative things, but not so much considered that this is a wad of scrapped levels, is that some maps are glaring fillers. Other than that it was a really fine wad; MAP06-09 and 17 were the best for me. This is surely recommended if you are geared towards hard and slaughter maps.

  • Foursite - Bauul
    Doom 2 - Single Player - Limit Removing - 1.71 MB -
    Reviewed by: Voros
    Foursite, one huge map. I'm not exaggerating.

    Bauul first came up with the idea many years ago, but the idea never became a reality. Then suddenly, after one year of work, Foursite showed up in late 2016. It's also his first map.

    This map is impressive in both detail and gameplay. Initially, when I heard of this map, my mind said "it's probably another one of those crazy hard maps." Surprise, it's not (at least not "crazy" hard)! Starting out in what I assume to be the bottom of some small canyon/valley, you don't encounter a single enemy for a few minutes, then tons of enemies later on.

    Bauul used excellent monster placement here, as it progresses from very, very, very easy (some Possessed Humans here and there) to Nightmare-like difficulty (the Spider Mastermind room, while walking/running over very thin bridges).

    The map is called Foursite for a reason. There are four massive/gorgeous quadrants of the map. Each quadrant is basically a switch-hunt, which will open the next quadrant and a bit of the exit each time. Foursite requires the player to have good platforming skills, because jumping on moving platforms with Mancubus fireballs heading your way ain't simple.

    There are also keycards being used here, but they're not necessary to finish the map. Use 'em to get more powerful weapons instead!

    Bauul mentions that the Spider Mastermind has been beefed up with DeHackEd. It never stops firing its chaingun, and its health is around 7x higher than before. The arena you encounter it in makes it nearly impossible to "shoot at it until dies". That's where the switches come in. These switches bridge the gaps found in the arena, leading you all the way to the final switch. Remember "MAP06: The Crusher" of Doom 2? Same concept here.

    This is a great map, albeit a lengthy one. Try it out when you have free time!

  • Ave Terra - LPDem
    Doom 2 - Single Player - ZDoom Compatible - 75.61 KB -
    Reviewed by: Not Jabba
    Ave Terra is a pretty simple and straightforward hellish arena level. Its main trope is changing geometry, with walls repeatedly lowering to make the central area wider and wider, usually revealing more monsters in the process. It's a pretty short level that never gets very big (monster count was a little under 150 on UV), and the geometric shifts are never super interesting, especially compared to what someone like Xaser can do, but it's not a bad idea to base a level around.

    The battles can sometimes be a bit challenging, but they're mainly done in the style of "throw lots of random monsters together into the same space." The ammo and items placement feels similarly random, though there's enough of everything to go around, and the map could probably do with fewer keys given how compact it is; I kept getting the next key so quickly that sometimes I forgot I even had it by the end of the current battle and got momentarily stuck wondering where it was.

    The map is pretty bland to look at, and there's little finesse to the design (virtually no cover to dodge behind, for instance), but it's an OK map overall. I wouldn't recommend it, but here's hoping it was a good learning experience and a stepping stone to bigger and better things.

  • Simple Pistol Starter - Coldiron
    N/A - N/A - ZDoom Compatible - 19.75 KB
    Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
    This is a little patch for ZDoom-compatible ports and compatible with all the original Doom games and some Doom clones as well (like Heretic, Freedoom, HACX and Chex Quest), plus some of the major mods like Brutal Doom, Strange Aeons, Beautiful Doom, Valiant, and many others (check the description in the textfile for further information) that makes you start every map with a pistol, making a discontinued gameplay experience instead of the usual continuous play with all the weapons you have. If you like to play this way or you want to play some mapsets designed for pistol start (like Doomworld Megaproject series), download this!

  • Blood Tunnels - VeeTHis
    Doom 2 - Single Player - Skulltag - 10.61 KB -
    Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
    This is a short wad by VeeTHis for the forgotten Skulltag port (or Zandronum using the Skulltag data PK3s, but it works kinda fine on all ZDoom-compatible ports, except a missing thing in a room near the end of the map) that claims to be a short jokewad.

    But could it be defined as a jokewad?

    Is it somewhat fun? No.
    Is it somewhat cringy? Not really.
    Is it an ugly map with insane layout and texturing? Yes... sort of.

    It is a short, linear map with a huge bad 1994 mapping style. There's an ASHWALL2 cave with fast-opening doors in player passages showing the path to reach the exit room; you reach the room and... you finish the map without any sign or warning. Woah.

    Gameplay-wise it is not really hard, except a compact army of shotgunners after the starting room, but when you get the trick to defeat them it becomes easier. Also in that spot there's a Wolf SS soldier frozen in position for some reason; probably the author wanted make a statue of a Nazi in the middle of a short bloodfall room, or an actor that will be activated after a script that the author forgot to put in... who knows?

    Overall, this map is just pretty forgettable for whatever aim it has; it is too ugly and stupid for a serious map and is too bland and unfunny for a jokewad. Skip this thing and play something else.

  • Kamikaze Suicidal - Michael Jan Krizik (valkiriforce)
    Plutonia - Single Player - Vanilla - 252.79 KB -
    Reviewed by: gaspe
    Kamikaze Suicidal is a single release from the well-known valkiriforce. It's a sort of sequel to his MAP22 of Plutonia Revisited, since that map wasn't so different from the original. This is a pretty big map for Plutonia, set in a techbase with toxic waste, and the look is made by the distinctive textures of the iwad. The gameplay reminds me a bit of Plutonia and it was quite tricky sometimes, but more prominent is the style of the author: a rather sprawling layout, and the monster count is high (around 400 on UV). This is a really well-crafted level and it's and easy suggestion, both whether you are familiar with this author or not, but more importantly if you are looking for a good Doom map.

  • Killing Adventure 2 - Ruba
    Doom 2 - Single Player - Boom Compatible - 3.39 MB -
    Reviewed by: Csonicgo
    There once was a time when I was wrong.

    Shocking, I know.

    It was around 2010, when I declared, "GOD DAMMIT RUBA STOP MAKING MAPS ALREADY." And today, I officially apologize to Ruba for this terrible statement. While Ruba was notorious for making map after map of supremely unplayable crap, I couldn't help but notice there was a serious mapper in there, somewhere. I was convinced it was an already well-established mapper's alter ego just making maps like that to either get it out of his system, or to ride the jokeWAD fad. Either way, I was confused and angry at those maps. Plus, the name "Ruba" sounded like "Ruby" and my brain immediately dreams of hot redheads, like Christina Hendricks, Marilyn Monroe, Piper Fawn... wait, what was I talking about? Oh, yeah, I kept typing "Ruby" instead of "Ruba". How embarrassing.

    Anyway, Killing Adventure 2 caught me off guard, and sucked up an entire Saturday afternoon. Gone are the days of 500 identical rooms with five imps in each one, and 90 degree walls because "texture alignment". If this is really Ruba, then Ruba is one of the best examples of a Doom success story: a mapper can turn it around. While it isn't "Doom Jr." levels of improvement, Ruba has gotten better to the point that I can play without throwing things.

    So should you play this? A better question is, why are you still reading this, and not playing it? For those still here, let's go over the basics:

    Ammo balance is tighter than a 12-year-old back injury. You're going to be counting shells as if you were playing in Vegas. It doesn't help that MAP01 itself requires that you defeat earlier enemies a certain way, as to save ammo for the tougher ones ahead. This does not let up, either; The whole mapset is on an ammo diet. What this means to you is: you better not pick up any more ammo than you need. If you have 190 bullets with no backpack and you pick up a box of bullets, you're already fucked. There were many occasions that I found myself completely out of ammo. This is not a good feeling. And I know it was because of my carelessness, not the mapper's. And that's a bitter pill to swallow, considering that the gameplay in places invites you to spray bullets everywhere and play with your brain turned off.

    This being Ruba, of course, there is some "jokewad" material in here, but not in a way that drags the mapset down. Most are in the form of imitation - one map imitates all the start maps of all the Doom games, plus one of John Romero's new maps. Sometimes there are things that are just there to bring a chuckle, like a picture of George W. Bush on a wall somewhere. One of the weirdest moments during my playthrough was when I entered a room with chaingunners and cacodemons, with "I'M NOT GAY FAG" written on the wall, with arrows pointing to pictures of women. I then found myself filled with bullets. Well played.

    The music selection is random as hell, yet I could not stop listening to it. They add a little something, and I'm not really sure what that something is. I assume it's video game music, but some selections do not sound like that at all...

    Ruba's maps all share a creative uses of textures. Remember the Icon of Sin face? It's used liberally here to make new creations like studio monitors. Wolf textures are used for big red brick steps, stone supports, and more. GRAYTALL also gets a chance, with its trademark red stripe put to good decorative use. It's really cool to see this level of creativity with stock textures.

    The environments are BIG. I mean that. This gives the maps an oppressive tone with the advantage of increased maneuverability. This may be a problem, however, if you fall onto a hurtfloor and have to book it to a teleporter or rad suit before your health reaches zero. Ruba nails this aesthetic in this mapset - something I thought only B.P.R.D. could do.

    Now, for the bad stuff - this mapset starts packing in monsters Holy Hell style about... 15 maps in? If you're playing with a fancy-shmancy weapons mod because you've already given up playing it normally (me), you may see your frame rate drop into the single digits. If you use enhancement wads that add crazy decorative shit to your kills, guns, or lights/trees/hanging dudes/whatever, you're gonna have a bad time. One of the maps is titled "DON'T KILL ME!!" which I assume is my computer, screaming.

    Yes, there are a lot of gimmicky maps, a lot of slaughtermaps (well, slaughter-lite to some of you), and because of that, it looks like a great thing to play co-op on, because even as I've been playing since 1993, I routinely got my ass handed to me.

    And before I wrap this up - what the hell is with your face in this thing, Ruba? You plastered your face in the weirdest of places, with the weirdest of emotions. At least I know you're human, I suppose. That's always a relief. Or, that person is being held hostage. Who knows at this point?

    I can't hate this mapset. I genuinely like it. Ruba, please make more of this. Doomers, please play this. You won't regret it.

  • Legacy of Heroes - Gaspe
    Doom 2 - Single Player - Boom Compatible - 6.84 MB -
    Reviewed by: Not Jabba
    Eternal Doom: divider of nations, breaker of souls, object of devotion. A megawad both praised and cursed for its slow pacing and its focus on difficult puzzles that require players to carefully search and uncover secrets to progress. A wad that I've ragequit less than halfway through each of the three times I've tried to play it.

    In many ways, gaspe's Legacy of Heroes feels like Eternal Doom Lite -- and for those of us who can't hack the cruel labyrinth of its predecessor, lighter is most certainly better. Legacy of Heroes has that same heavy focus on exploration, taking in your surroundings, hunting through the darkness, and finding the right switches to progress -- but those switches are (almost) never hidden, so you won't get lost or overly frustrated as long as you're careful and thorough. As a result, you get to spend your time enjoying the atmosphere and the fighting instead of grinding to a halt while you try to solve the progression. The set does offer some more hardcore puzzle elements for the true Eternal Doom fans in the form of secrets -- about a half dozen per level, and many of them seem to require multiple steps of puzzle solving. I never even came close to figuring out most of them, but I appreciated how they added another layer to the maps, a totally optional hardcore challenge that you can come back to whenever you want, either at the end of the level or in a second playthrough. If you want a BFG, however, you'd better get cracking.

    The combat gets pretty tough, though it (usually) feels significantly more casual than Eternal Doom's other favorite child, Epic 2. Combat in Legacy of Heroes is very tactical. There are lots of snipers, particularly chaingunners, and setups frequently revolve around enemies that are entrenched by the architecture, have the advantage of the high ground, or both. To make up for this, the levels typically offer a decent amount of cover that you can use to advance on your opponents. There's a lot of relatively easy incidental fighting due to the exploratory style, but the larger battles require you to act with precision, moving quickly and prioritizing your targets.

    One area in which this wad doesn't go light at all is the architecture. Boom's increased engine limits allowed gaspe to take the beauty and realism of Eternal Doom's resource selection up to 11, and the outdoor levels in particular are defined by sprawling, gorgeous views. The interior sections are much more confined and a lot darker, with tight swaths of high-contrast light around the torches and other light sources. With every cavern and corridor fading out into shadow, these interiors really ooze atmosphere. Eternal Doom's textures have always felt somewhat monotonous to me because they all use the same few sets of colors and dim lighting blends them together even more, but this mapset still gets a lot of mileage out of them, creating an array of ruined cityscapes and dungeons that mainly distinguish themselves through the shapes of the architecture. One of my favorites is the underground town in map 03. There are also some really wild scenarios here, like the gigantic whirlpool you drop down at the end of map 05, only to find yourself in some kind of spider temple that's infested with a mysterious blue glowing coral structure. Map 08 has one of the better sector ships I've ever seen. Every setting helps to add to the implied story and the feeling of adventure. Also, this may sound odd, but one of my favorite aspects of gaspe's detailing are the fancy little key/item platforms, like the plasma rifle pedestal in map 04 or the red key platform in map 05 that's shaped sort of like the Dragon Claw from Heretic.

    The difficulty gets more intense around maps 07-09. Map 07 and map 09 are both dark dungeon crawls that feel a lot bigger than their monster counts would suggest. Both of them have much stronger puzzle elements than the rest of the set, and each of these levels had a spot I got stuck on for a long time. Getting the blue key in map 09 requires hitting three switches scattered around the level, and while I found two of them eventually with normal exploration, the third one seems to require solving an Eternal Doom-esque puzzle to lower a wall. I eventually just clipped to the other side, but at least I was able to make sense of what I needed to do, so I wasn't stumbling around blindly. Map 08, by contrast, is a huge city level that has you fighting through dense architecture with plenty of enemies at every turn, and for me it was the most fun level in the set just because it's the most action-packed. Map 10 is pleasantly small, with a slow and suspenseful build-up followed by a final boss battle against two custom Maulotaur monsters. The bosses aren't much more than Mancubuses with a ton of health, but the arena itself makes the battle interesting, as most of it is damaging slime and you have to try to stay on the various little rock islands while still focusing on beating the Maulotaurs. Map 11 is just a small closing scene, and it seems to hint that what you've been through is part of a much bigger story in which the time continuum gets rather... complex. Maybe there will be a sequel?

    If you really dislike the style of mapping that Eternal Doom and Epic 2 represent (if you're me, for instance), then you'll probably find Legacy of Heroes frustrating at times. The pervasive darkness can be a little much sometimes, especially in the beginning of map 06 and several parts of map 09, and although it adds a lot to the atmosphere of a dungeon crawl, it can detract from gameplay at the same time. Finding your way from point A to point B can be confusing, and the pacing often felt slow to me, especially when I was fighting too many Hell Knights and Barons or suddenly facing yet another pair of Cyberdemons (pretty sure I did that twice in the exact same arena on map 09). All of this is intentional, of course, and it's all done in faithfulness to the mapping style; it could probably be refined a bit here and there, but it's well done, and you'll just have to take it or leave it. However, I will say that I got hung up on columns, stray rocks, and decorations a little more often than I should have, especially in the earlier levels.

    Despite the few small flaws and aggravations, Legacy of Heroes is a very good mapset, and I enjoyed playing it -- especially when I found myself standing on top of a wall or bridge, my view suddenly opening up into an amazing panorama of distant towers and domes. Eternal Doom fans should find plenty to love in this more modern take on Team TNT's classic ideas, and lay-Doomers will find it much more accessible and fun than its predecessors.

The /newstuff Chronicles is a usually-weekly roundup of new items uploaded to the /idgames archive, and it is written entirely by community members like you. If you wish to contribute, the /newstuff Review Center is the place to do so. Register on the Doomworld Forums first if you don't already have an account, because you need one to submit reviews. Special thanks goes to the nearly 300 users who have submitted reviews over the past several years.