The /newstuff Chronicles #427
Classic Doom - Posted by Bloodshedder
- 25 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.
- Maruta 731 - Proktor87
Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 4880318 bytes -
Reviewed by: Eligitine
Let me start off by saying I don't want to review this wad, but no one else will. It's so terrible, yet I can tell effort went into it, which makes me feel all the worse. The whole thing is done in greyscale, and has a 1994 feel to it. There are a few new weapons, but they seem lackluster and ended up getting me killed when I used them. There are a whole 8 levels to this, and it made me sad that I had to play through them all. The fact that it took two months makes me feel even worse about bashing it. Its playable, but god was it painful. I recommend skipping it.
- Sinister Intention - Jay Townsend AKA Jayextee AKA ComicMishief
Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 692441 bytes -
Reviewed by: Eligitine
It is very rare that I play a wad I review more than three times, but this one is special. Very pretty levels are combined with just the right amount of difficulty to create a playthrough that I have to say is actually fun. All seven levels are completable from a fresh start, which is something I love to see mappers do, and all of them contain a level of detail that is sufficient, but by no means ugly. There are a few points in the wad that could use working on, such as the lighting sometimes seems a little wonky, but over all, I strongly recommend this 20-30 minute play through.
- The Chamber Of Damnation - Jeffrey Banks
Doom 2 - Skulltag / Zandronum - SP/Co-op - 43837336 bytes -
Reviewed by: Eligitine
This .wad surprised me right away by having a fancy and very well done menu sequence. Starting at a close up view of a piano, the view slowly draws back to reveal the burning landscape of hell. It provided a rather nice view of what a player would be facing, with the visage of the Icon of Sin sitting firmly in the upper right.
Let me say this right now. This .wad is hard, brutally so, to the point where more often than not it's better to run than fight. The author lets you know it right away, giving you a plethora of weapons and armor in the very first room. And players will need every last bit of it. Health kits are few and very far between; however, there are a few mega and soul spheres scattered about. Ammo is somewhat of an issue, or rather, the lack of it. Most of what players will find is rockets, which compliments the monsters everywhere, but there isn't quite enough to kill everything, so players will need to pick and choose important targets, like revenants and archviles.
The wad makes nice usage of Skulltag actors and weapons, although it seems to be mainly to increase the difficulty. There are a few times however that I personally would have died if it were not for a conveniently placed rune or quad damage. Seeing as this is a Zandronum wad, naturally I assume it's meant for multiplayer, so after starting a server and getting a couple friends together, we agree that is designed more for the HR enthusiast.
One thing I should mention is that the environments you fight in are actually quite varied, although it can sometimes be confusing what to do next, which isn't good when you have quite literally everything wanting to kill you. The maps themselves are very very pretty; I recommend taking a tour through them with no-monsters turned on. The fighting areas are quite varied, from tight cramped corridors, to a temple, to vast open lava fields, and even an unholy altar.
Overall, this wad is worth checking out, if only for sightseeing.
- BongoFur.WAD for Hexen - Gary Mueller
Hexen - Vanilla - Solo Play - 74803 bytes -
Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
Ok, here we go with this older map for Hexen uploaded from the Doom Universe folks... I remember playing this on a CD-ROM from a old issue of PC Gamer. The level itself consists of a huge staircase and four rooms inspired by the four elements (fire, ice, water, heart), although the title or the weird, short description doesn't give any hint to theme of the level.
Detail are dull and a little unexpressed, but make it a dirty job to understand where you are, the layout is really linear for Hexen standards, and the little puzzle at the begining is... OK. Not insane nor the easiest.
Gameplay is nice and some traps make me "angry", like the running crushing wall on every stair junction, but the rest is OK.
It's not a masterpiece, neither the worst wad ever for this game; it's just, uhm, mediocre. Play it as you wish.
- DTS-T - Ingmar Derks ("Deathmatcher")
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 47418245 bytes -
Reviewed by: Tarnsman
Allow me to preface this by saying that when it comes to entertainment, I generally don't consider anything inherently bad or inherently good. It's a matter of execution. That's also how I feel about Doom. I'm pretty sure someone could find a way to make *insert whatever your Doom-mapping pet peeve is here*.wad at least mildly interesting. So my exasperation with DTS-T doesn't come from any predisposition hatred towards things like ZDoom effects (in fact DTS-T really could have used MORE ZDoom effects to reduce the massive number of sector slopes scattered throughout the WAD) or attempting to tell a story within the primitive confines of Doom, but from DTS-T failing to execute these concepts in an interesting and exciting way.
Now I will give DTS-T credit where credit is due, it is ambitious and the last third of it at least tries to do something different. But good ideas and ambition don't matter if the end result is, well, pretty crappy. DTS-T bites off way more than it can chew and ends up unfocused and unnecessarily obtuse. Some massive projects suffer from a short build-time, but that wasn't the case here. This project suffers from a long-build time. The text file lists the build time as ten years. Ten years is a lot of time for someone to develop their mapping skills. (I've gone back and looked at things I've made ONE year ago and thought about how horrible they were.) This is where abandoning the idea of 33 mediocre levels to instead focus on 8 to 12 really good levels that are nice and polished would have been preferable.
But alas, 33 bland and very uneven levels are what we get. Levels are mostly filled with basic room shapes and infuriating oddities like obscure switch puzzles, a lack of ammo (a big problem in the first two episodes), or unclear action lines like the brick wall doors in Gothic Egypt (I refuse to call it Gogypt.) They do get marginally better as they go along, but I'm not sure I'd call things like the copy-pasted map where you have to kill boring square rooms filled with the same enemy type over and over again, or the level where you go through a mostly mono-textured body until you reach the rectum and get pooped into a giant toilet gigantic improvements over the bland hallways that populate the first three chapters. Not that chapter four doesn't have more than its fair share of bland hallways, because it does. (But at least the body level taught me important facts. Facts like the human body has a jumping-puzzle portion and that the brain is made out of FIREBLU.)
Not every level is a series of boringly connected basically shaped rooms; there are a few interesting locations. The floating void fading castle thing was mildly interesting for three seconds (simply because it was leagues above everything before it), I thought the Geonosis arena and Mordor recreations were at least passable, and I did feel a warm tingling in my cold-dead heart when I discovered that Deathmatcher had bothered to remake a vanilla-WoW raid in Doom. But for every mildly interesting thing, you get shit like the reactor level that makes you backtrack through the same switch puzzle not once, not twice, not even three times, but FIVE times. Or the level based around the seven deadly sins where Lust is just a bunch of Lego boobs and ceiling vaginas that plop out demons, culminating with a gigantic sector penis complete with hairy balls. Or the worst offender, the first level on "Tityos" where you come to a large circular clearing with multiple paths, each time you attempt to go down these paths magic bars raise blocking your way. Even worse you have to trigger all of these bars before the real path becomes open, as if to punish the player for attempting to progress.
"But Tarnsman!" you say, "You just don't get it! DTS-T isn't about the gameplay man! It's like a BioWare or Obsidian game, you're just supposed to ignore all the glitches and problems and focus on the story. So stop the hate because like peace and love man." (Yes, in my mind every single denizen of Doomworld is a cross between a beatnik and a hippie; I think it's a coping mechanism.) Okay then, I'll completely forget the gameplay and look at this WAD's narrative so that I can be immersed in the deep-and-engaging story™.
Since the story is told almost entirely through fully voiced radio transmissions, let's look at the voice acting. As someone who goes out of his way to sit through badly dubbed 80s/90s exploitation OVAs, I am no stranger to bad voice acting. I also don't go into any fan made content with high-expectations for the voice acting. I get that most content producers don't have access to high grade equipment or mid-and-above-tier voice actors. That said, when you're trying to tell an engaging story, it helps when the only voiced character doesn't have the emotional range of Microsoft Sam. This is the kind of voice acting that you don't publicly release. It's the "here, I tried, now let's talk about ways I can improve" kind of voice acting. (I get that everyone has to start somewhere, but there comes a point where you need to objectively filter yourself. When I taught myself how to play the piano, I made sure to do it on a keyboard with the ability to plug in headphones so that other people didn't have to listen to that crap.) But just for the sake of looking at this as an amateur project, I'll omit the quality of the voice acting from my overall opinion.
Unfortunately, from a technical aspect there are quite a few things wrong with the voiceovers. First, they're too quiet and easily missed if you are doing literally anything. I turned the music down to 0.1 and still struggled to hear what was being said, but even the ambient monster wander noises drowned out on the voiceovers at times. Subtitles would alleviate this problem. (Or maybe if Major Reily got a better radio that didn't sound like it was from World War II he might be clearer.) Secondly, and this is a major one, you can easily trigger multiple voiceovers at once. The only solution I found to prevent this was to stand still and listen to everything he had to say because otherwise I would again, be punished for playing the game. Needless to say, these greatly impede the WAD's ability to tell the story.
But I'm willing to overlook those problems too, because there is a bigger problem underlying all of that. The story the voiceovers are telling isn't interesting. It's a generic, clichéd, boring story that Call of Duty would be ashamed to use. You're a generic space marine with no personality, you're given orders by a generic guy over a radio with no personality, you have to find a generic plot device that is basically just "the evil device you must stop", and episodes tend to end with a cue from Mario. (Sorry, our DTS-T is in another dimension.) The end twist is that the guy on the radio becomes evil. I honestly have no idea why this happened because I probably missed the relevant line due to some background noise overpowering it. Then the plot completely abandons the idea of finding the DTS-T device you've been looking for for the past 27ish maps, and you go and kill him. Just like that. No real transition. He's just evil and you have to go back to base and kill him. The end. Well, you do get a post map audio log from him that rolls pretty much every dead character cliché into one. (Not only was this to be his last assignment, but he was also a poor parent because he focused too much on work and was going to retire to be a better dad.) And that's it. That's the "amazing" story that makes this WAD so worth playing. Excluding the brief text intermission screens that tell you the backstory for each new episode you go to.
The backstory to the various locales you visit is equally bland and generally poorly reinforced by gameplay. For example: the Gothic-Egypt story involves a massive century long religious feud between two warring factions that is ended by a "chasm in the earth" created by God, then you get to said chasm and it's hardly anything to be in awe of; in fact, I'm pretty sure I could SR50 across it. The other settings are generic castle realm, future techbase, and a hell hub called The Apostruct which was apparently constructed through the powers of "Mad Mathematicians", which made me laugh a lot harder than it should have.
Overall, DTS-T is a combination of poor maps, a boring story, and a couple of possibly decent ideas, all wrapped up in a package that is riddled with technical failings. While there are far worse WADs in terms of technical quality, it doesn't excuse DTS-T's utter lack of playability. I applaud Deathmatcher for not launching into a massive tirade at the first sign of criticism and for showing that he is willing to dedicate time and effort to craft something, but that doesn't mitigate the failures that plague DTS-T.
- Screamer V1 - Buu342
Doom 2 - Skulltag / Zandronum - Solo Play - 760659 bytes -
Reviewed by: BloodyAcid
<SCREENSHOT SPOILS GIMMICK>
A small ugly box room piled with gore leads out into a 64px hallway with 2 trip lines that activate two scripts - one that summons an imp and the other that plays a generic screamer sound. Not even close to being worth your 10 seconds. Keep moving, folks.
- Screamer V2 - Buu342
Doom 2 - Skulltag / Zandronum - Solo Play - 772889 bytes
Reviewed by: BloodyAcid
Same old, same old. Nothing new, nothing to expect.
- Another Screamer V1 - Buu342
Doom 2 - Skulltag / Zandronum - Solo Play - 150856 bytes
Reviewed by: BloodyAcid
Slightly more effort, though same old gimmick as the old one. Some cheesy text is displayed and the screamer jumps...eventually.
A typical screamer photo lifted off Google has been palette raped and set to fill the screen when activated. I've taken the courtesy to link the screamer, so let this serve as a warning if you don't want to see it. [Ed: the screenshot has been deleted from ImageShack.]
- Random Speedmap to celebrate 40oz and Bloodyacid's Birthday - Obsidian
Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 373545 bytes -
Reviewed by: ReX
This is a single-player map for Doom 2 that the author created to commemorate the birthdays of two members of the Doom community - 40oz and BloodyAcid.
The author's use of the phrase "random speedmap" in the title of this mod is reflected in the brevity of the game - with some luck, a skilled Doomer will probably complete this map in a few minutes. The map design is simple and linear, with one key required. To illustrate how simple the design is, the entire map fits within a 1280 x 768 grid, and there are only four areas in which combat can occur. Some of the areas are cramped, and this occasionally assists your ability to dispatch the ravening hordes, and occasionally hinders it.
The gameplay is relatively straightforward, but the twist is that the only "weapons" the player is provided are the pistol and the berserk pack. Considering that you will get no additional ammo, you'd best bone up on your fisticuff talents, saving your meager 50 bullets for the most desperate situations. The majority of the enemies against which you are pitted are easily dispatched with your adrenaline-fueled punches. However, there are a couple of heavy-hitters that may need to be handled with kid gloves (no pun intended). The challenge is heightened by the general lack of health (although there's an invaluable power-up you can acquire in an easy-to-find secret area) and complete absence of armor. I found the gameplay to be occasionally frustrating, exacerbated by the lack of maneuverability in the map. Skill levels are not implemented, meaning that the game does not get easier on lower skills.
In my opinion, the redeeming features of the map were the new textures and the use of Boom features. The author has used (and credited) textures developed by J.S. "Psyren" Graham, choosing to use those that have the GSTONE and MARBLE theme. In addition, the author has used Boom features to cleverly make a floor that sinks and transforms into a set of stairs, and to make a health pack materialize out of nowhere. This author has used Boom features effectively in previous works, and this bodes well for his future in mapping. A minor nitpick: The author has included the entire Psyren texture pack, but has only tapped a small fraction of the available resources. This makes the mod unnecessarily bloated.
This is a niche map that will appeal primarily to fans of Tyson mode of gameplay. The new textures and Boom features are well-used.
- cbpandemonium - Matt "cannonball" Powell
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 92278 bytes -
Reviewed by: ReX
This is a single-player map for Episode 3 of The Ultimate Doom that the author "made to recreate the magic that was Sandy Peterson's Pandemonium map from Doom".
The author designed the map to emulate the look and feel of E3M3 of The Ultimate Doom (even though this mod plays on E3M1). In this regard, I'd have to say that the author accomplished his objectives. The visual themes and texturing are consistent with those of Pandemonium, the original designed by Tom Hall and Sandy Petersen. This mod uses a variety of texture sets, as does the original; by and large it is pulled off well, and the map has an old-school appeal. The music, however, is new (from Heretic). The architecture and detailing are nicely done, but the map can still be played without a source port.
The map is even more non-linear than Pandemonium, with multiple paths presenting themselves right at the start. Each path then splits further, offering the player a variety of options for proceeding. In my opinion, this lends itself to replayability, although some would argue that it makes the map confusing. I'll admit that the first time I played the map I was, indeed, confused at times; however, the second time it was much less so. With the computer map relatively easy to find in the secret area, the map ought to be easier to navigate. There are six secrets in all, some more difficult to discover than others, but all have audio or visual clues.
The gameplay is much like you'd expect an Episode 3 map to be. There's a goodly assortment of the bestiary generally found in E3, and with the exception of the cyberdemon and spider demon, you'll encounter all the denizens of that inhospitable world. You'll rely on your shotgun and chaingun, but a berserk pack will give you the opportunity to mix things up a bit. The rocket launcher and BFG are in secret areas and are entirely unnecessary in this map. The plasma rifle is tucked away (not in an area marked as secret), but is a cinch to score for the intrepid explorers among you. There's plenty of ammo, health, and armor strewn about the map, so that you'll rarely feel like you're on the edge. There is a generous distribution of powerups as well, most of which I found to be redundant and didn't use. Overall, however, I found the map to be refreshingly free of stress, and quite an enjoyable romp (even at UV skill).
This is a well-made map that remains faithful to the atmosphere of the original. As a bonus, it is playable in vanilla (or Chocolate) Doom.
- Deathmatch: Temple - TheNooBringeR
Doom 2 - Skulltag / Zandronum - Deathmatch - 186809 bytes -
Reviewed by: BloodyAcid
It's big. You'd spend more time running between the corridors than actually shooting at each other.
It's a giant brown U-shaped thing made for deathmatch. There are some marble fixtures, some very big marble columns, and a nonsensical outdoor section with deep water. That's about all I can say about it.
I beg to wonder why this author would spend more time replacing graphics for the menu and choosing music over actually mapping the damn thing.
- Hells Clash demo1 - Catastrophe
Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 538473 bytes -
Reviewed by: CorSair
Hells Clash is a demo set of maps, from maps 01-03, plus it contains some unfinished maps, either by being just unfinished or crap.
There isn't much to say, just bunch of corridors and rooms that are small and cramped. You have very limited room to dodge, or the cover is awful.
Mostly, areas are detailed to point of overdetail. Not obstructive to your movement or limiting sight, and it doesn't strike the eye much for me least.
Author relies on some ambushes to go with, though they are not that irritating. Sometimes surprising, but again, not irritating. And because areas are small, every corner and corridor is packed with some monsters. This, for me, gave me a distant feeling of arcade.
Summary? Three small levels, gone like candy. Not much to offer, but if you just seek quick, mindless action-packed wads, go with this one.
- Modus Mortis - Vladimir trq
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 321925 bytes -
Reviewed by: CorSair
Modus Mortis is a small and quick wad, containing only five levels to romp through.
The maps are easy to navigate, although some repetitive texturing could disorient you in certain places. As for the progression, Modus offers minimal amount of annoying backtracking, and some free roaming in one map to search for keys, which is kinda nice. As for those few traps, there can be some that are surprising, if not outright nasty. Silent crusher, as an example. Damn, how that shocked me when I saw that ceiling coming down in that place I was in for less than second.
Overall, the maps are dull, but there are some quite nice pieces of detailing, either some playing with lighting, or the feeling that level is alive with moving parts.
Author said that it can be tough on UV. Not in my opinion. I started this on UV, and it was easy to slog through. Enemy amount in levels don't hit triple digits, except for the final level. Only catch is, you need to beat them with your shotgun. Might be annoying for some people. I don't mind that, for some time. The final level could be bit tough, but only if you don't know how to play.
In short summary? Not bad. But it is not good at the same time either. Best for people who ain't that good, and like to play quick games. For me, quite a dry experience.
- The Eye - mouldy
Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 945330 bytes -
Reviewed by: CorSair
The Eye is one large level revolving around a spiral tower.
The idea itself is quite nice. In order to proceed, you gotta get into the middle part of map, and for that, you need all three keys. It doesn't matter what route you go, you'll just come back where you started. Or you can just go to certain parts of the map and backtrack to the other part. Up to you how to do it.
Gotta admit it, I admire and I'm jealous about how well the author can do just by using standard Doom 2 textures. It requires a good amount of creativity, and bit of logic, to make it look good, yet it doesn't bother your eyes nor it doesn't screw much with your mobility. Like the area beyond the blue key; that flesh part looks really awesome.
Enemy and item placement is the double-edged sword part of the wad. I like challenge, but some parts are just way too cruel to be a proper challenge. Like they were slapped there to create a challenge. The final part of the level, for instance. It's a nice slaughter at the bottom of spiral, oh and the fight to the top. It gives an epic feeling. I can't say no to climbing to victory. But goddammit, Archies resurrecting enemies behind you while you're facing a Cybie in front of you? Not that nice, even when I like asshole tricks. Those tricks really need bit of thinking. And the final part at the top of the tower? Feels pretty much like bullshit, when you've gone through with the rockets and cells in that staircase. Thanks for the option to drop down to the tower, I guess. And overall, the liberal use of arch-viles feels really annoying, even if they're challenging enemies. Thankfully the author knows when to put powerups and stuff in the places. Like the backpack part in the right side of the circle. An invulnerability sphere to ease things a bit. Or the same sphere in the spiral? I think that lessens slightly my negative thoughts of that tower.
Even with that said and done, it is a cruel bitch, but at least it is not impossible. If you can think a bit while dodging, you can pull it off. Like the flesh room part with littered rockets, cells and a berserk pack.
The aesthetics can blow up your visual senses (in good way), has really neat level design, and comes with tough challenges. Can be too cruel at times. For those who really love challenge.
- Glacier Base - Chris Weathers
Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 118441 bytes -
Reviewed by: ReX
This is a single map for Doom 2, with the hook being that the only weapon available (outside a secret area) is your pistol.
Parts of this map are low-lit, which makes it look very dark in vanilla (or Chocolate) Doom. This could have been used to create an ominous atmosphere, but the absence of lighting variations just causes the map to look plain. On the flip side, there are a few new textures that are well-implemented. In particular, I liked the glass panels on windows and to create a computer "block". The ice textures supplement the theme of the map as a base buried underground in a glacier, but don't expect to see any ice sculptures. This map is playable in vanilla (or Chocolate) Doom, although you'll find some minor tutti-frutti effects on some of the textures. There are also a few misaligned textures, but otherwise the texturing is competent.
The map design is mostly straightforward. The outside "moat" encircles the base, allowing you the choice of two doors to enter the base. Once in, you can head either into the Eastern area or the Western one. However, you'll need to pick up the blue key before entering the area with the red key, which is required to exit. The areas inside the base are meant to represent computer areas, and navigating them is a cinch. Secret areas are visible through windows, but there are no visual clues for the doors leading into them. One of the secret areas (to the health pack in the SW quadrant) is inaccessible, as the door cannot be opened from either side.
Playing with only a pistol can get tedious at times. On the other hand, it hearkens back to the nostalgic, early days of Doom, when the player often had to rely on the pistol. There are plenty of bullets, and strategically-placed barrels and monster-infighting can help to thin the opposition. The enemies are mostly easy to dispatch, even with just a pistol, as there is sufficient room to maneuver. However, be wary of the many hitscan enemies that can whittle down your health. Because there is a meager supply of health, I found myself low on health for most of the game. Armor is only provided through bonuses (unless you find the green armor in the secret area). Aside from the armor there are some pickups, health, ammo, and (most notably) a berserk pack and chainsaw in secret areas. Finding these secrets is not essential to completing the map; I managed to finish the map on UV skill with 100% kills without using any of the secret items. (One minor nitpick: some of the enemies around the moat appear to be stuck to barrels or the wall.)
This map has an old-school design and feel, and this is accentuated by the types of fights the map offers.