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The /newstuff Chronicles #527

  • DEMISE - Nathan Pagliaro
    Ultimate Doom - Single Player - ZDoom Compatible - 2.42 MB -
    Reviewed by: Benjogami
    Sometimes you're just in the mood for some schlock, you know? A nice chill B-movie wad where you can zone out and cruise through some ugly nostalgia and have a laugh or two. I decided to review this wad after playing the first level and skipping around a bit to see if that spirit was kept throughout. It seemed to be, so I buckled in. Turns out, schlock can be pretty fatiguing.

    Demise is a 3-episode replacement for doom.wad by Nathan Pagliaro, and it requires ZDoom or a derivative to run. That's always a good first warning, when a wad that gives no indication in its text file and makes no use of advanced features needs ZDoom to run. Okay okay, I suppose being able to dump PNGs into your wad and having it just work counts as an advanced feature, but the PNGs are practically in the Doom palette already! Just convert them! With a few clicks in SLADE, I made a version that loads in PrBoom+, but maybe there are other mapping errors that ZDoom smooths over, who knows.

    Demise presents itself as a level-by-level homage to original Doom. E1M1 has a secret outdoor courtyard. E1M3 has a circular walkway over sludge with imp snipers on opposite sides of the room. E3M1 has you starting in a flesh pit with an eyeball button. You get the idea. Pretty soon, though, my ability to spot such references slowly degraded, and I could only see long halls and huge rooms, filled haphazardly with non-threatening demons, useless imps, and former humans that slowly chipped away at my health and my sanity. Health and ammo are rather sparse, which is the only source of danger in this set. Did I mention there are no difficulty settings implemented? The text file at least calls that one out. Health and ammo are often given out in large caches that are sometimes secret, sometimes not. Otherwise you'll mostly get shells from shotgun guys, and if the author doesn't use them for awhile, you might find yourself running out of shells. I sure did run out of shells as I worked through episode 1, because I decided to pistol start the maps. That was a mistake that I didn't realize until E1M8, where I was faced with four barons (double the pleasure!), and something like 20 shells, 100 bullets, a handful of rockets but no rocket launcher. Unless I missed something obvious, or some necessary secret, I think the author designed for continuous play. I was given a rocket launcher and a fair number of rockets in an earlier map, but I tossed it all away, never to see it again.

    After a quick idfa and some charming intermission text, I was on to episode 2, playing continuously. In the first map I found a backpack, and then something like 100 shells that I couldn't carry, with most of the monsters on the map dead. Off to a good, ammo-filled start. In episode 2, rather than huge halls and rooms with trios of pinkies and quartets of imps, we now get some barons and cacos. Even with a sizable reserve of rockets and cells, killing 2 or 3 barons in a large room isn't terribly fun. One of the most thrilling moments of episode 2 was when a baron that I had left alive and forgotten startled me while I was lost and wandering around. Progression in Demise can be obscure when it's something other than "okay I got the key, time to backtrack through a long, empty level to that key door that I saw five miles back." There are mystery switches, and there are infuriating one-way loops. There are even crippling bugs that you need to noclip through (E2M2, I'm talking to you and your broken door/lift/thing). There's a secret soulsphere on E1M3 that greets you with a missing texture, and then doesn't let you back out. There were a few times where I got myself soft-locked in pits, either by platforming in unexpected ways, or just falling. Many items, including keys, are placed up on tables or pedestals such that you can't reach them unless you fling yourself at them with SR40. Pretty rough stuff.

    The Shores of Hell ends with some literal copy paste from doom.wad (as far as I can tell), but now with an upfront BFG and some barons scattered around outside. Maybe you can imagine how those additions make a single cyberdemon trivial to kill. More charming intermission text, and onto Inferno.

    Well, there's not much more to say about Inferno that hasn't already been said, although I do think it's by far the strongest episode. Gameplay is a bit ramped up, to its benefit, but it's still a mostly unthreatening slog that I opted to run through when possible. The garish and abstract hell theme is a better fit for the arbitrarily large and oblong spaces that Pagliaro creates, and maybe he felt more at home with the hell theme, or had learned how to create some more visually interesting spaces by this point in his mapping endeavor. For example, E3M4 has some large and cool-looking areas; the final open area before the exit is particularly dramatic. There, the player must collect all three keys sequentially, running from one end of the empty area to the other, before the exit can be opened. Are we rewarded with a dramatic fight to go with this dramatic space, after this tension-building key gathering? Nope. About six imps on the other side of the door, and then the exit. The E3M6 homage includes a large FIREBLU building facade, but it really is just a facade. There's none of the fun, open exploration that is at the heart of Mt. Erebus. It's just more long, branching halls to confusedly or boredly traverse.

    Demise would have immediately benefited from using Doom 2 as its base, because those long, huge rooms would have been more interesting with some arachnotrons, pain elementals, and archviles in them. But as a level-by-level homage to Doom 1, it naturally didn't go that route. There are some cool-looking rooms, and some interesting ideas. A couple times, the player is teleported into a new area and needs to find a key to get out. E2M5 has a large open area with a few raised areas of tangled computers, but nothing really happens there except getting plinked at by distant former humans. There are some really cool moving floors with techno pillars riding on them in E2M3. Pistons, perhaps? The end of E1M2 has a view into an outdoor area that is the setting for the beginning of E1M3. There are sparse teleport traps that, while not threatening at all, are a surprising break in the monotony that made me think, "well that's pretty cool."

    Demise feels to me like a sketchpad of partial memories from Doom, connected together with long halls, casually scattered monsters, and arbitrary switches--Doom doodles that might have been scribbled in class during a semester of particularly boring lectures. It was good for a few chuckles and moments of amused bewilderment. My craving for schlock has been more than sated.

  • Ambush at Deimos Refinery - Carlos Lastra
    Ultimate Doom - Single Player - Limit Removing - 157.89 KB -
    Reviewed by: Csonicgo
    Everyone loves tribute maps. This one will be no exception - a fitting tribute to E2M3: Refinery. The only difference is just about everything. There are cacodemons near the beginning, but that's as far as it goes with similarities.

    This map on Ultra Violence delivers pain in spades. Additionally, the map keeps expanding itself through opening walls, revealing more monsters with more space to fight them in. There was only one instance of a really cramped fight with a Baron in the red key room, but even there, I could "get away" through a computer maintenance tunnel somewhere. Flying monsters are used liberally, which can fly anywhere they damn well wish. That means you're never safe from those cacodemons and lost soul jerks.

    The map is also a thematic mess.

    Texturing and detail smacks of the mid 00s detail craze, but somehow manages to stay sane in the gameplay department. The clash between man-made structures and hellish areas are very distinct, with techie structures never leaving the clean, orthogonal angles of the original E2M3. Hellish structures that clash with "techbase" carry a marble theme. And then there's full on hell, with jagged, rough angles, never perfectly straight, with red rock and flesh about. It's really cool to see marble and tech mix together so well, since the textures imply similar structures to be built with them.

    As a bonus for this WAD (and to take the piss for the terrible software screenshots I did last time), I am presenting screenshots for this review in glorious GEEZY-VISION™, with all the cool lights and shadows the kids like. Maybe the textures look better after a few drinks and br00tal moudeefeekaycioneys. Okay, fine, I actually like the crazy texture use, I just find it really avant-garde compared to what I'm used to.

    For those who play "normally", and I mean, those who play with near-vanilla setups, and don't use silly things like "jump" or "crouch" - you won't have a problem. If you're one of the new kids that love to exploit those features, well, you're out of luck here. Jumping and crouching are disabled in ZDoom. Ha!

    My biggest problem with this map is that the difficulty of certain areas is just too damn hard. I did have to savescum a particular area until I managed to get through it. Finding secrets takes a long, long time to discover, with some secrets hiding in plain sight. The plasma rifle taunts you at the start room, which you'll be visiting several times. Some secrets are shootable switches, which require you to line up just so with a switch deep in a wall somewhere, pull the trigger, and hope for a hit. I only found two secrets out of six, and I played this map four times!

    (While I have the floor, why the heck are secrets becoming more and more difficult to the point of cracking open a map editor to find the fucking things? Can we stop this please? Hiding a switch in one of the small red squares on the COMPTALL texture "monitors" doesn't make you clever, it makes you a jerk.)

    I had a lot of fun with this. I had to write the review three times, each time discovering more about the map as I played it multiple times. What I'm saying is, if it makes you angry, just keep trying, this map will grow on you. As for Doomgods, y'all shouldn't have too much trouble with this, as long as you have a comfortable setup to play, because you'll be doing a LOT of quick turns to deal with demons coming at you from all angles.

  • Rayzik's Birthday Gauntlet - Megalyth
    Doom 2 - Single Player - Limit Removing - 144.08 KB -
    Reviewed by: Benjogami
    Happy birthday Rayzik! Sorry that this message is a bit late (it's 2017 and this is for a 2014 birthday, but that's fine right?). Presumably Megalyth delivered this birthday map in a more timely manner, but it's just now been archived on /idgames, and with some extra stuff added. I didn't play the original, and in fact I didn't have a Doomworld account in 2014. It feels a bit strange to evaluate an old birthday wish, but this birthday wish is a Doom map and I can muster some words about Doom maps.

    "Rayzik's Birthday Gauntlet" is short, fun map that cheerfully plays with expectations. One segment drops you into a maze in which several switches need to be found in order to open up a rocket launcher, a megasphere, and a switch. While searching for the switches, you might start expecting revenants around every corner, and sometimes you'll be right. You'll also be collecting a generous amount of rockets as you explore the maze, to go with that rocket launcher that you'll eventually open. For what, I imagine?

    Thematically, we mostly find ourselves in a tech base made of cement, green brick, the occasional wall of computers. (rayzk_1401.png) There are short jaunts into adjacent themes--perhaps this is a storage area? (rayzk_1402.png) Perhaps this one is a generator room? (rayzk_1403.png) This one might be a basement that was dug a bit too deep, into some demonic ruins? (rayzk_1404.png) This room is definitely transplanted straight from hell, somehow. (rayzk_1405.png) A bit disjointed perhaps, but it's varied and pleasing to look at.

    Another section again demands that the player press a series of switches, but each of these switches sets into motion more fighting and opens new nooks with new switches. Each wave is engaging without being cruel or punishing, and elicits a joyful "all right, what's next!" rather than an "oh geez what now?"

    If you're in the mood for a short, tasty Doom snack, check out "Rayzik's Birthday Gauntlet" by Megalyth.

  • Mappy's Inside Story - RottKing
    Doom 2 - Single Player - Boom Compatible - 91.33 KB -
    Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
    This is a pretty open and square-ish slaughtermap made by RottKing, similar to the "Super Mario" wad made by valkiriforce some year ago. The map is based upon the sprite of Mappy from the eponymous platform game made by Namco in 1983.

    The layout is pretty basic as I wrote above, with mostly boxes that create towers with different heights. Texturing is kinda odd but it works, with a strange brick / tech hellish arena. The major problem is inescapable pink flesh pits in the northern area of the map; also, the upper section of the level (that can be accessed through a switch action that activates the huge lifts that take you to the upper section) has a (low, but fast) damage sector in it. Weird.

    The simplicity of the layout has been counterbalanced from the monster/item placement, especially the cruel way it was balanced: medium / high-tier monsters are used as a hitscan towers in the higher section, and big groups of HK / revenants are placed at strategic angles or as cannon fodder in the upper corridors of the map (one group of revenants is used as a hitscan tower in the highest tower in the map), and one cyberdemon is behind a corner in a corridor created from the various towers in the map. To battle this horde you have some powerful guns like the SSG and plasma gun in some strategic corners of the map, with some cells and shotgun ammo placed in some corner or the middle of a sector. Same with the VERY LITTLE health in the form of medikits and a pair of soulspheres, but the hitscan monster choice draws down your health quickly, so you need to dodge all the projectiles using the very little cover.

    A pretty hard map, but is also fun to play. If you like the slaughtermap genre this is the map for you; maybe it would be even kind of easy for some of you!

  • Gary Gritness - Doom RMX - Gary Gritness
    Ultimate Doom - N/A - OGG Support - 49.86 MB
    Reviewed by: Not Jabba
    Gary Gritness isn't your typical Doom MIDI remixer; he's an old-school electro-funk composer and musician with four albums to his name. Doom RMX features remixes of the entire Doom 1 OST using Roland keyboard and drum synthesizers from the '80s, formatted as OGGs and packaged in a wad file so that you can listen to them while playing Doom. Most Doom remixes I've heard have been attempts to make the songs sound more modern, and it's pretty cool to see such a serious effort to make Bobby Prince's music even more retro.

    Although it feels a bit disjointed to play the original Doom with CD-quality sound, the tracks themselves are undeniably cool. The basic metal-inspired tracks like E1M1 and the level intermission music feel relatively unchanged and are probably the least interesting to listen to, but they give you a decent taste of what Gritness is up to. The more video gamey tracks like E1M4 and E1M9 are also very true to the originals, but the industrial synth sounds Gritness uses make them really fun to listen to. The creepy, atmospheric tracks like E1M2 and E1M3 benefit the most from the better sound quality and the echoes/effects that Gritness has added in, and these songs tend to be the best; all of them really feel amped up and improved. Some songs have been transformed more than others, but all have been treated with the reverence they deserve, or in a couple of cases, the irreverence they deserve. The transition from eerie intro to fast-paced rock in E1M6 is handled beautifully. The laser-zap effects in E1M2 are a bit weird at first, but the alien wailing and drum shifts that made the original the best song in Doom are still present and better than ever. I'm not sure I like the discordance thrown into E1M7, but the siren-like rising and falling elements that Gritness added to E3M8 managed to turn one of the most boring songs in the game into real boss fight music. The episode end music has been elevated to something worthy of the closing credits in an '80s action movie, and D_BUNNY is just great.

    These remixes are well worth a listen, though as in-game music, I think they'd work a lot better with something like Knee-Deep in ZDoom than they do with the original levels. The Doom community is such a self-sustaining bubble that it's easy to forget just how much of a legacy this game has even for people who don't still play it all the time. Contributions like Doom RMX are a welcome reminder.

  • AVOCADO - NoneeLlama
    Doom 2 - Single Player - PrBoom+ - 278.79 KB -
    Reviewed by: VeeTHis
    This WAD is NOT ideal for the beginner Doom player. This WAD has nice decorations and textures, but a HIGH amount of enemy spamming exists in this WAD. I mean, it is kind of ridiculous. If it had less, then it would have much better gameplay. I had to go into God mode to even get to the end of this!

    Other than that, this WAD has very good textures, it is very pretty looking, it had nice lighting, and it just looks absolutely beautiful. It wasn't long, but not short. The ammo to gameplay ratio was kind of messed up too.

    I actually tried the first part of the map, and it took me about 20 tries before I activated God mode for the rest of the map.

    Enemy spamming just isn't a good way to make a WAD, because all of this WAD is pretty much just that. By the end of this map, I was glad it was only one level.

    Oh, this map also has a lot of detail. The layout of the map wasn't all that confusing. In fact, the map wasn't really super cramped. How do I think you should make your next map? Well... PLEASE put fewer monsters in.

    I also really like the ending room, where you go to that fake exit and get teleported into that Wolfenstein room. That added a nice touch. I also really like that re-skinned Icon of Sin that finishes the level.

    And, I guess that's it for my review. Overall, awesome map, NoneeLlama.

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.