Welcome to a rather, er, disjointed week of The /newstuff Chronicles. We're sorry it's late; one of our regular reviewers has had unforseen problems, but we've pulled a team effort and got it to you here now. This week is made up of the Doom Advent Calendar maps and a few others too, so there's plenty to see here. Reviews of DAC 1-16 are by pritch, 17-24 are by Bloodshedder, and the rest by deathz0r.
- DAC 1 - Fatality - cycloid
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 31KB - (img)
This small opener to the DAC of 2005 may not be big but it's full of chutzpah. You start in a cramped antechamber full of small baddies, and you might want to grab the chaingun that lies straight ahead ASAP because it's easy to die at the outset. You then head left to get the red key and then right to the exit, but watch out for the revenants. The small playing area means you'll need to pick your cover wisely. Architecture basic but fine; a good few minutes' play.
- DAC 2 - 31 - Brandon "POTGIESSER" Potgiesser
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 108KB - (img)
This DAC wad, originally released on December 2nd, is what I would call a meat and potatoes map, in other words very atypical. It's been put together quickly, it's almost symmetrical, and yet it's fine in its own way. For added incentive I recommend you grab the berserk early and try and tyson your way through. Watch out for a nasty surprise at the exit switch. Overall, OK.
- DAC 3 - Temple of Lust - Use3D
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 185KB - (img)
If you had to pick one DAC map to download, this would be there or thereabouts in the shortlist. Thankfully, unless you a ridiculous bandwidth limit, you don't have to choose, because it would be a crying shame if you were to miss out on this great effort from Use3D. The standard in DAC was generally very good but this is a proper, proper map, hell-themed which is always tricky and executed very well indeed. You start off by running a gauntlet through narrow battlements into a building before returning outside to mop up hellspawn, and each time you enter another keyed area this outside fills up with stuff again. Gameplay is balanced and fun. Really very good. It's a tight call with Dr. Zin's map but I'm just about going to make this pritch's DAC wad of the week, as it just feels really right. Get it now.
- DAC 4 - Chaos Shine - Michael "Bloodskull" Cole
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 377KB - (img)
If you wanted to prove to someone how far Doom mapping has come in the last decade, this is just the sort of map you'd want to show them. The architectural detailing is excellent, the colour choices bright and conistent, and it generally looks a million dollars. It plays decently too, and though testing shouldn't prove as difficult as some of the other DAC maps. It's quite a large map too, so it should provide more than just a few minutes of play. One of the better ones in the series from this emerging mapper.
- DAC 5 - Twisted Shadows - Zap610
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 2416KB - (img)
This was the 5th advent calendar map to be released in December and for me it was one of the most interesting. This won't be to everyone's taste as it's one of those that's demanding on cunning and attention to detail and less of an actionfest. You have to make your way through a series of well-detailed rooms finding the hidden switches that open something to progress. It's linear, so don't worry about running around aimlessly, you just have to look hard. Something a bit different and I grew to really like it, it has good atmosphere and the music is an excellent choice. Well worth a look.
- DAC 6 - Demon Bunker - TheDarkArchon
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 36KB - (img)
This is a small, fast, and cramped wad that was 6th in the 2005 advent calendar. Architecture is basic but a little varied, with some nice touches. It's a competent smaller map worthy of a run-through, and maybe even a speedrun. The final battle once you get 'out' to the surface is worth taking care over.
- DAC 7 - Duplex - Dr. Zin
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 611KB - (img)
This cracking effort from Dr. Zin came 7th in the advent calendar and it made it a very good day indeed. It's a large sprawling network of what looks like a UAC mining operation. This leviathan of a map takes you across the whole thing, from underground caverns to hangars to surface rock leading to more distinct structures. It all feels very real and it's beautifully proportioned. The Duplex will provide minutes of good gameplay easily measured in double figures. Definitely recommended.
- DAC 8 - The Power Supply - DooMknight (original version by Eye Del Cal)
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 370KB - (img)
8th on the DAC 2005 was another base, this time more of an out-and-out techbase, really well-presented with a nice new sky and the palette modification that brings in that shade of blue famous in the Unidoom deathmatch wads (shameless plug). Gameplay is challenging even if it is mostly the smaller enemies; you're sniped at in vulnerable positions from the start and you'll need to watch your health, as there isn't much to spare. Ammo should be plentiful from dead baddies. DooMKnight's done a good job of touching up this Eye Del Cal map and it's worth playing, get it.
- DAC 9 - Necropolis - Doom2Day
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 1590KB - (img)
Note that while this map, 9th on the DAC, is meant to be Boom compatible; I at least could not get it to work properly with Boom, so use ZDoom. The map itself is one of those that's a bit crazy, the layout and theme are generic Doom map-ish and don't really stay consistent or make much sense. Worse is the fact that you can get stuck in a couple of places such as on a ledge between an elevator with the SSG and a drop. Tip: get your wads as playtested as possible by pros before you release them. I noticed that with a few other DAC wads but still, as this series was done in a hurry it has to be given the benefit of the doubt. Gameplay is often cramped and arguably a bit unfair, but it's certainly doable if you're skilled. Take cover and take out small areas at a time, don't charge through with this one as it'll only end up messy. Overall not bad but not great either.
- DAC 10 - Mission X - Bloodshedder
doom.exe - Solo Play - 38KB - (img)
It won't set your pulses racing but this effort from our very own Bloodshedder flows nicely and reminds you of how Doom was before Doom 2. The action leads back to the four pillars in the starting area, and as you'd expect from Bloodshedder everything is logical and makes sense. Faithful E1 style secrets too. Original Doom fans should like it.
- DAC 11 - Carved Stone - Mephisto
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 55KB - (img)
This 11th DAC map is a really smart brown cavern type base with solid, themed architecture and good linear gameplay that develops as you go along. You will have to kill for your weapon upgrades, though look out for the rocket launcher secret. A bit short maybe, but short and sweet as usual from Mephisto.
- DAC 12 - Doom Advent Calendar - Spork Map - AgentSpork
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 159KB - (img)
We all have a soft spot for AgentSpork, 2005 cyber-award winning mapper. Suffice to say this 12th DAC map is up to his usual standard - long realistic hallways packed to the rafters with spawn. Look out for a couple of Sporky in-jokes, this is a DAC map after all! Get it.
- DAC 13 - Flashback E1M8 - Espi
doom.exe - Solo Play - 20KB - (img)
This simple E1M8 replacement is essentially another version of the original. I gather it was something surplus to requirements from another project called Flashback and it feels like it! As ever, being Espi, it's competently done, but it's nothing you haven't seen before.
- DAC 14 - Radial Ascension - Lutrov71
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 98KB - (img)
The 14th DAC installment is a nice map from Lutrov71. The first few areas have the theme of expanding outwards as you hit switches lowering all the walls revealing more and more enemies. You'll need to be quick to the weapons or you'll be caught out. Architecture is decent, and all in all this is challenging ten or fifteen minutes worth.
- DAC 15 - Flashback E2M9 - Espi
doom.exe - Solo Play - 20KB -
Another level from the defunct Flashback megawad, but this is much more interesting from Espi this time. It's a really decent e2m9 replacement which gives you plenty to think about once you enter the main arena. Although there's plenty of "warlike ordnance laying around," you'll need to work hard to get on top of the situation. Consistently E2-themed and recommended.
- DAC 16 - Forlorn - Owen "Sarge Baldy" Lloyd
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 398KB - (img)
A dark, creepy monster of a map from Sargebaldy, this 16th DAC map is very challenging from the start. I tried this in ZDoom first, but I don't recommend you do, as I got a message saying "You don't have the key" even after I got the red skull key. I'll explain - you start out by going west or east - one area contains the blue key and one the red. Both routes are pretty tough with plenty of knights, barons, revenants and archviles slowing you down. Once you have both keys you can open the door into the impressive final area. As I said at the top this is a large dark and creepy map from Sarge, with plenty of good architecture successfully merged from different themes, and a very fitting E4 replacement sky which puts you in mind of those maps from PSX Doom. Grab it.
- DAC 17 - Hanger - ravage 'I can't spell' fox
doom.exe - Solo Play - 36 KB - (img) (img)
This map presents a sort of mishmash of Episode 1-ish themes, though it does some things with the architecture that give it a non-Episode 1-feel in many places. It's not ugly, just simple, but the map as a whole has good connectivity. Gameplay is decently balanced but on the easy side, with maybe a bit too much armor. Overall, it's short but fun.
- DAC 18 - Courtyards from Hell - doom2day
doom2.exe - Solo Play - 86KB - (img) (img)
If you want it, this map is likely to have it. Tiresome texturing, annoying architecture, illogical item and monster placement, tedious teleportation trains, fights that aren't fun at all--it's all here, a sad spectacle of mapping mistakes. Probably the least impressive map of the entire Doom Advent Calendar series.
- DAC 19 - Speed Villa - RjY
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 34KB - (img)
Short and kind of ugly. But then again, what do you expect for something made in two hours? However, it's not completely horrible, as you can at least get a minute or two of semi-enjoyment out of it. Hopefully RjY makes better maps when he's not under a time limit.
- DAC 20 - ea_adven.wad - Erik Alm
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 174KB - (img) (img)
Of course, Erik Alm can make maps like nobody's business, and this is no exception. It's good looking, and the gameplay will keep you on your toes at all times. One of the best maps in the advent calendar series; the only other thing I can say is to recommend that you play it.
- DAC 21 - shitbag1.wad - Shitbag
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 197KB - (img) (img)
For Shitbag's WADs, be sure to get the texture pack from here. This gothic-base-esque-type map looks and plays pretty well. I ran out of ammo once and had to fist some imps, but that was the extent of the problems. The map is populated by mostly small enemies, and as such, you don't get the super shotgun. Worth a play.
- DAC 22 - shitbag2.wad - Shitbag
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 153KB - (img)
A stone map surrounded by blood which, due to an overabundance of hitscan enemies and monsters constantly teleporting in, was too difficult for my liking. Still, it's probably worth your time to check out.
- DAC 23 - shitbag3.wad - Shitbag
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 197KB - (img)
Another level that's too hot for me to handle. This one has a decidedly hellish motif to it. I guess I'm not as good at this game as I thought. Check this one out; I'm sure you can handle it better than I could.
- DAC 24 - Yule Time Doom - Ian Cunnings
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 179KB - (img) (img)
Ian brings us a fancy new frozen techbase map. This frozen-level-on-a-stick should quench your thirst for a well-crafted creation. Attention to detail is paid just about everywhere, so the architecture is superb. It doesn't play perfectly (maybe a few too many imps without having a super shotgun), but it works decently well.
- Hachisch Deathmatch v2 - Eye del Cul
ZDaemon - DM - 96kb - (img) (img) (img)
Welcome to the non-DAC section of /newstuff! Of course, I really shouldn't add an introductory paragraph to my section inside a review, so we'll get straight to the nitty gritty! I will mention though that due to the popularity of my style of writing back in #260, I will be repeating the same formula again!
HAHA JUST KIDDING
This weeks only DM wad is quite an interesting piece overall. The single map is a fairly large and complex building, and is definitely suited for at least four to roughly twelve players. Because of the size and layout, it unfortunately suffers from camper-friendly syndrome, as there are many corners where players can prevent others from grabbing SSGs and the like. The detail is quite fair overall, and I particularly like the "damaged wall" around the outer area of the map. The only thing that really surprised me about this was the fact there are monsters randomly added for no apparent reason whatsoever. It kinda brings back the 1995 craze of making "SP/DM fusion wads", but fortunately this is of higher quality than some of the crap produced back then.
- Impsicity - Tarcanos
ZDoom - SP - 898kb - (img) (img)
Produced by an apprentice of Agent Spork, this map displays the trademark Spork style of extreme linearity. Unlike Spork however, this feels a lot like an inferior Hong Kong bootleg of Street Fighter II for the NES. The detail is almost eye-gouging, the layout is horribly simple and it poses no real challenge whatsoever. As a matter of fact, this map feels more like an Imp demostration WAD than anything else.
- Redemption I - Flesh699, Impboy, Tango
Legacy - SP - 2.0mb - (img) (img) (img)
This 11-level mapset is generally boring overall, with tons of stolen sprites and sounds from other WADs/games. The detail is low, the gameplay is very uninteresting, and the use of Legacy features don't really impress me. Don't bother with this WAD.
- Redemption II - Tango
ZDoom - SP - 2.0mb - (img) (img) (img) (img)
The sequel to the above WAD is slightly more interesting than the original, but there's even more stolen sprites and sounds, and there's that damn status bar that's been used in almost every sprite-stealing WAD since 1995 (isn't it from Aliens TC or something?). The most hilarious thing is that the death frame for the status bar was not replaced, resulting in a rather funny and crappy result (see second screenshot). The detail has been improved very marginally, and the gameplay is slightly more interesting, but the sounds were too annoying for me to play further than the first two levels, so I just took random screenshots afterwards.
- Twisted Dimension - Tango
ZDoom - SP - 2.0mb - (img) (img)
When I played this map, I came to the conclusion that this is nothing more than an imitation of Agent Spork's Temple of Chaos 2. It is hopelessly linear and you have to fight monsters in groups before you can progress further. However, the level of detail is a lot higher than in Tango's previous works that were reviewed above. What I said for Temple of Chaos 2 when I reviewed it in a previous /newstuff pretty much stands for this WAD, but I found the puzzle really annoying due to it being poorly made (you can get teleported back even if you're going in the right direction). Despite that problem, this WAD is good overall. For some unexplained reason I feel obliged to give this WAD my recommended pick of the week.