The /newstuff Chronicles #430
Classic Doom - Posted by Bloodshedder
- 10 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.
Velocity CTF X - The Mechanix Union
Doom 2 - CTF Support - CTF - 7362897 bytes -
Reviewed by: dew
Velocity CTF X is a 32-map set by the Mechanix Union, a loose Zandronum-based group best described as Decay, Dusk and friends. It is a fairly high-profile project, because Decay and Dusk made sure to get a lot of community feedback during the whole creation process, organized a lot of private and public betatesting sessions, and generally pimped their work to all three major multiplayer communities. So have they succeeded in promoting their polished product, or have they just become notoriously annoying?
It all started thousands of years ago in mid-2011, before the dawn of man as we knew him. MassVC, the then-Head of the IDL Board, organized a contest to generate new maps to freshen up the stale IDL map pool. It was pretty much the anti-32in24 with a lot of experienced CTF players picking up mapping tools for the first(ish) time. The result was surprisingly the same as your usual niche (hi, Alfonzo) 32in24 - imbalanced with a lot of misses and a handful of good hits. Some of the latter included maps from our dynamic duo, so they decided to set off and use them as a base for creating a megawad of their own. Yes, that concludes this boring tangent.
I need to commend Decay and Dusk for their persistence and goal-driven approach. They actively sought out feedback to the point of bugging the hell out of anyone and everyone that would play, including IDL "elites". For an anecdotal example, Dusk turned map03, his oldest and perhaps most played map, by 45 degrees just a month before the final release, because I thought the important long walls should be aligned orthogonally to reduce snag. That receptive attitude helps to set a gameplay standard, something not that common in the lands of flags. There's no rhyme or rhythm to the maps style-wise, so you get small and big playing areas, hallways and open skies, techbases and castles and mines and void maps. The larger ones intended for more players tend to appear later in the maplist though.
Detail is reined in; clutter and fluff obstructing paths for no good reason are almost nonexistent. The maps are still quite pretty, at least for us DM/CTF ignoramuses. Textures are varied, colours are rich... I'd actually say Decay goes overboard a bit, his techbases are too flickery sometimes with bright lavafalls and similar prettifiers making them look a tad cartoony, even beyond the expected red vs. blue theme everywhere. Then again I don't recall any map texturing that'd be too busy to the eye, hiding important action during fast movement. I have to bring up my favourite pet peeve - I don't like ice maps and there's a handful of them in Velo. They're needlessly white and bright and hurt my eyes. It's partially my fault for using bright monitor settings and maxing out gamma, but goodness, snow is just not a good theme, and even Ralphis' famous zdctf map04 only has very little of it!
Now to the core element. How well do these maps play? As with most CTF megawads it's a mixed bag. You have the obvious hits capturing hearts after the first round in them. Dusk's original idlcomp2011 submissions, map03 (and Hell Captured) and map04 (Industrial Nukage Mining) are both simple, small, yet distinctive in their fast paced layouts that funnel attackers into the base, but getting out is the problem. There's Shane's tiny hyper-slaughter map09 (Swap Meet) and Decay's idlcomp2012 entry (map13, Stand-Off), reminiscent of inflated zdctf map04 with its frenetic pace and constant stream of flag touches. Then there's Decay's Generatrix (map06), yet another clone of 32in24-4's Generic Grey, and I wish this version overwrote the original in everyone's minds so we wouldn't suffer in its cramped base entrances anymore. I think Kuchi's and Dusk's map21 (Save the Universe) also belongs in this category, but I never had the pleasure of playing it.
Then there are maps that are pretty damn good, but people don't want to give them enough attention, because they're not that easy to pick up and master while the MP folks are notoriously conservative in their time investments. A good example would be Dusk's map01 (Rotated Infinity) with its nontrivial base entrances that slow the pace down considerably and the all-important time management of the central blue armor. Or Dusk's map28 (Deathgrind), a pretty but tough grind with easily defensible bases and a central BFG booth gimmick. This map could be considered a sequel to Earthquake's zdctf map24. I like map31 and 32 too, but despite their relative simplicity, they suffer from being at the end of the maplist, and people judging the megawad as a whole never last that far.
One of the most populated categories of CTF maps is "those that almost got it right". Decay's map11 (Winter Sacrifice) would be quite good despite the icy theme (it's offset by dimmed lighting), but the getaway teleport out of the base is just too damn effective. The escaping flagger is dropped at his own side of the mid-area with bars closing the tele off behind him. Poor defenders, heh. Gun Shy (map05) by Kamai is also a good map, except there's a ridiculous secret crypt area behind the flagroom with very limited access to it once someone decides to camp there. Oh and CTF-mapping daddy Exl's beautiful map26 (Mortal Revulsion) would be great for larger (5v5?) battles if there wasn't just one puny bridge connecting otherwise well thought out and complex castles standing in a lake of lava.
Last but not least we must not forget about the bad maps, the failed gimmicks and the questionable concepts. These compete with the previous category for majority across all the wads in existence, but the Mechanix managed to keep them at a very low proportion. I'll say Synert's map08 sucks, the mid is uninspired and bare with just a hilariously long thing bridge, like a porn spoof of zdctf map04. Dusk's map10 tries a spin on zdctf map02 back-to-back bases, flags-almost-touching, which rarely works, but he adds even more weirdness with silly trees and backpacks everywhere. Kamai's map15 is massive, open and bare with nothing interesting going on. I will put Omegamax's lovely looking map23 here as well just out of sheer hatred for the impassible lines he put between the pillars of the lavafall. That crap needs to stay in the past with zductf, thank you. If you don't want me to walk through there, put up a fence.
To summarize and end on a high note, Velocity CTF is a pleasantly fine full mapset with one of the highest hit-to-shit ratios in the CTF business. Some maps already hit the IDL selection (and the spinoff zdmegactf selection as well) and more may find their way in in the future, which should be a mark of validation on its own. I personally prefer this wad over 32in24-12 as a whole, and one day I'll go back in time to kill Xaser, and posing as him I'll award the 2012 multiplayer Cacoward to VeloCTF instead.
The Great Urban Battle - Paul Corfiatis (pcorf)
Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 7737306 bytes -
Reviewed by: mouldy
A city map of epic proportions. There are well over a thousand monsters living and working here, and your only hope of getting out alive is to find the 6 keys hidden in various buildings. The monsters don't like it when you find their keys, and will pour into the streets to kick your arse. The layout is the classic grid of buildings separated by streets, but really manages to evoke the scale of a real city with enormous structures and large open areas. There's a fair attempt at street furniture, with LEGO traffic lights and graffiti here and there, and enough alleyways and dead ends to make the battles unpredictable. It's a completely open adventure; the keys can be found in any order, and there is plenty of ammo and health to keep you going, though I didn't find much in the way of armour. This made the large fights pretty hazardous; with a load of monsters shooting you from every angle, it only takes a few hits to wipe out your health, so I found myself saving quite a lot.
If you have a couple of hours to kill, I'd heartily recommend this map; it has a ton of exploration and some great chaotic skirmishes. Its also one of those maps that never knows when to end. Great fun.
BUSHWHACKED! - Michael C. Davis
Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 11905 bytes -
Reviewed by: Hunter_568
Okay, to start this review off, Bushwhacked is a small map which occupies the E1M1 slot of Registered Doom or The Ultimate Doom. The level itself was made back in 1994, where most levels were designed poorly, and to me probably a waste of time to download.
Bushwhacked was a disappointing level. It was primarily designed as a deathmatch map. Single player on this map is very easy and no challenge whatsoever. Basically a 7 year old could beat this map, or fall asleep because of the boring combat. On the easier skill levels it was just insulting to see how boring a map can be. Playing this wad on Ultra Violence was just as easy. The levels add Cacodemons and Barons Of Hell, but they are still easy to kill. As well as that, there are no puzzles or little mazes that make it a challenge, and no enemy at all is required to be killed. So single player is short lived and boring.
Multiplayer is also pretty terrible as well, with fighting being absolutely boring and in no way fun. I could have more fun if I played 1337.wad! But there is a rocket launcher. At least.
The appearance of the level is rough as well, and ugly. Textures are just slapped all over the place with no real thought or theme to the level. I'd say it would be a hell-gray themed level. Also, some doors don't even use real door textures. They just use symbols. If you have played Doom before then this is no problem, but if you never have then this could be very annoying. Even the only teleporter in this level is missing the teleporter texture! So what did they do with the texture? They slapped it right on the roof of the room right next to the starting area. Object sprites are also scattered around the room with no general thought whatsoever.
Considering that this is a 1994 wad and it is pretty boring, I say avoid it altogether. Not trying to be offensive in any way, but I found it to be very stupid and slow. But still it could be a great candidate if they make another 1994 Tune Up Project.
HeDRoX 2 - Rodrigo Acevedo (ElRodo)
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 3505906 bytes -
Reviewed by: CorSair
HedRoX 2 is composed of one huge level and a small finale map.
I played the first HedRoX about a week ago. It just amazed me how detailed it is. And the second one just aims for the stars. Just look those screenshots. Somebody might now mutter "overdetailing." But it's well done, to say the least. And best of all, it doesn't hamper or obstruct the player (if not counting those ceiling computers which are a wee bit cramped to fit through.)
Level layout itself is straightforward; just trample through the level, door to door, or some switch/key hunt. That's one minus in this. But there are some neat additions to areas. Like after the first encounter with the zombies. There's a stack of crates, forming a way to top of them. From there, you can jump through the window (the door leading to that room can be opened from the other side, by the way), giving another way to approach, and avoiding the monsters in the area before.
For the gameplay... ammo distribution can be scant at times, especially in the start. Infights can come handy at times, especially when you hit the huge 3-door room. As for the monsters, the first map contains over 500 enemies, and even when the map is huge, the numbers can be overwhelming sometimes. The fights themselves are interesting, either small skirmishes consisting of a few imps, demons, or zombies to keep activity up; sometimes an arch-vile shows its ugly head for challenge. Then, there are small rooms with lots of enemies, and huge areas with numerous amounts of enemies. Mostly these kinds of areas are spacious and sprawling, so the player should have a way out of the heat and/or space to maneuver.
Other than that, there's nothing to complain about the placement... but I wished for something shocking to complain or admire, but it just goes the same route. No teleporting enemies (I didn't see any), no special monster closets. Except when picking up that red key. All the tension buildup, to see if the arch-vile has resurrected slain enemies, or a cyberdemon/mastermind is waiting for me... instead, groups of barons, hell knights and demons. The finale part felt... underwhelming, considering there were two cyberdemons. When everything settled to dust, it was all like, "That's it..."
Even with those negative thoughts, I still find it enjoyable to play. It just needs to be a bit flashier.
In summary: great detailing without being obstructive, and has some tight fights, but needs more surprises. Recommended to play.
3 Heures d'agonie - Various
Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 2672807 bytes -
Reviewed by: Memfis
Here we have a speedmap megawad made by members of the French Doom community. You might be already familiar with some of the authors if you have played Speed of Doom, Plutonia Revisited, Survive in Hell, Community Chest 4 and so on. General rule was to make a single player map in 3 hours, but some maps took quite a bit longer than that, with the longest build time being 9 hours.
The maps vary greatly in design and gameplay themes, but they all have a few things in common: they are relatively short (of course), action packed and with just enough detail for my liking. This is basically a perfect example of speedmapping done right in my opinion: concentrate on exciting gameplay and throw in some cool visuals without going overboard with the detail.
While the wad is not difficult overall, there are a few slaughter-oriented levels that might scare weaker players away, and then there is MAP19 with its cruel traps and tight balance. Plus, some of the maps might disappoint you in the visual department, and some are just extremely short. Aside from these points, I feel like there is really nothing not to like about 3 Heures d'agonie. If you're in for some quick dynamic Dooming, go get it now.
Hidden Temple - isVital
Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 182931 bytes
Reviewed by: Hunter_568
This level was designed by a beginner to Doom mapping; the question is, is it any good?
The first thing I really decided to notice about the map is that it is, for the most part, a linear map design, which is possibly the reason for not having support for deathmatch. This is a level for the Doom 2 IWAD which occupies the MAP05 slot. For a map it contains quite a number of enemies; yes, this is a SLAUGHTER MAP. As soon as you go through the first few areas you find yourself knee-deep in the demons' blood as you slaughter and slaughter. There seems to be a good use of textures in the level, and the design isn't bad itself. However, the item placement is a bit of a problem; not enough help and ammo for my liking, and too many monsters.
One thing that I haven't really pointed out yet is that I really hate slaughter maps. Maps with high amounts of enemies isn't really my cup of tea.
I can't say I'd recommend this map to many people. To people who are looking for themselves to be entirely covered in monsters then this is for you, but to the other Doomers, don't play this map.
Herbtech - NerdKoopa
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 121346 bytes -
Reviewed by: Obsidian
Herbtech is a one-map wad for ZDoom that I actually had the chance to play before it hit the archives: there's a thread for it floating around for it somewhere where I left some advice. The general theme is a bio-lab taken over by a rogue plant, and as themes go it's pulled off rather well; a snazzy set of custom textures and decoration replacement (ph33r the giant tomato!) help lend to the general atmosphere. Unfortunately this atmosphere does not stretch to monsters: I went into this map expecting a liberal sprinkling of plant-based monsters, which I didn't get. This could be considered something of a minor quibble seeing as the monsters used are the monsters we all know and love/hate, but I digress.
On to gameplay: in the thread for Herbtech I echoed the opinions of numerous other community members and proclaimed that it was a bit on the easy side. The enemy count wasn't overly huge and mostly consisted of low-tier monsters: fun, yet relatively safe. It seems that NerdKoopa heeded this advice... to some extent; I think 2 Pain Elementals were added and that's about it. The gameplay is still enjoyable and the PEs do bump up the difficulty a bit, but it's certainly not one of the more revolutionary revamps. Also, I'll reiterate what I said when I first saw this map and say that it'd fit a lot better as a first map in a set of similar maps considering the difficulty and linearity, but that could be just me.
On a lighter note, I enjoyed the final fight quite a bit; most maps end with a few hard-as-nails monsters that you have to hack your way through, but not Herbtech. Set one foot in the final room and a veritable slew of Imps will surge forward, claws raised. It's just something I don't see much with most maps, so I thought I'd mention it. :)
Overall, Herbtech is a competent first foray into the world of Doom mapping; it's worth a look if you're game for a casual playthrough, with a decent aesthetic to back it up. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get off me arse and review some more maps.
Doomworld Mega Project 2012 - Various
Doom 2 - N/A - Solo Play - 4424150 bytes -
Reviewed by: mouldy
This is a collection of 40 maps where the theme is that there is no theme - mappers of Doomworld were encouraged to come together and make whatever they wanted simply for the joy of Dooming. As the text file says "All maps were accepted and nobody was rejected", so you might expect quite a random assortment of hits and misses within, disparate styles and varying qualities, and you might be wondering if it is worth downloading and playing through all 40 maps to find out.
Well the short answer is: mostly yes. There are some cracking maps in here, and probably will be a few you won't like, but the random nature of the collection means each map can be taken on its own merits and there is no compulsion to play them all. And you never know what will come next, which is all part of the fun. It could be an epic killfest, a cyberdemon's toilet or a strange conversation with a spider mastermind.
The wad is divided into selections of maps according to their compatibility. The first 12 are vanilla/limit removing, 13-29 are Boom, 30-39 are ZDoom and 40 is UDMF. Map 1 "Bean" starts things off with a bang, and map 2 "Daemonum Malum" continues the action with one of the best maps of the whole wad, a gorgeous unfolding gothic base full to the brim with evil stuff that needs shooting. Thereafter the vanilla maps continue with a bit of a mixture of very short, fairly old-school good to average maps with a few annoying duds thrown in ("Circle of Imps" for example is literally a line of imps in a circle). Thankfully the bad ones are over before you know it, and when the Boom maps arrive we are back to the meat.
And there is a lot of meat here; these next few maps are perhaps not for the faint-hearted with some tough fights and moments of semi-slaughter. Beginning with "The Hive", an epic 500 monster battle through a sprawling tech base, followed by "Mountain of the Doom God" and "Omnivore", two very tough cookies with liberal violence, good design and interesting layouts. Also worthy of mention in the Boom collection are "Lounge Street": an action packed urban maze with some fun details, and "Abraxas": a nice bit of carnage wrapped up in a gaudy nightmare of clashing colours and textures. Of the remaining Boom outings there are some experimental and concept maps which are worth a look, and a couple of basic slaughter maps that are probably not, along with a few more conventional maps that play perfectly well.
Map 30 heralds the ZDoom-only section. If I'm honest I'd say this is the weakest selection of maps. "Pricks" feels like something of a finale to the wad, with its unfolding arena-based slaughter. After that, what's left is a smattering of basic looking maps and ZDoom experiments which are a bit of a mixed bag of dodgy design and gameplay.
All in all though, it's an entertaining assortment of goodies: conventional maps, slaughter maps, experiments and just people having fun with map making. The unpredictability is something of a novelty, and it's definitely worth hunting through for the gems.
Vile Advance - EANB
Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 213252 bytes -
Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
Hello. Do you like arch-viles? Well, you got bread for your teeth!
This cool techbase map in TNT-style made by EANB is a big deal and contains more than 12 arch-viles, includes a huge amount of monsters, and a not so fluid layout (I got lost searching for the keys, running around for 10 minutes in the base searching for a key of some sort, and when I found the switch for raising the bridge in the yellow key room, a way to show it would have been much more appreciated) didn't make me it like that much.
Despite this, it is still a cool map; the detailing is cool and texturing is very clever (except METAL4 as stair textures in the yellow key door room), giving the map a solid aspect, even using a cliché ambiance choice (that actually I use too on my maps) of brown techbase in rocky places with caves here and there. The only complaint is that there's too much freedom in the mapping layout and no way to understand where to go.
Gameplay-wise it is hard in some parts, especially when you fight against arch-viles...
Overall it is a very cool map; if you want a good challenge you've got your map here!
Rooftop Garden - Pizza_Time!
Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 196921 bytes -
Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
So, I played this short and sweet map from Pizza_Time! (mmm, tasty!) It contains lots of cool Boom effects (actually it was created for the prBoom engine, but I played it with ZDoom and didn't find any bugs). It has lots of great lighting and shadow effects and some cool details like "3D" floors around the level, but unluckily there's some bad stuff, like a bland indoor section and a significant misalignment in the starting room (as shown in shot 1). Anyway, the layout is nice and well defined in its simplicity, the map is fast and easy to navigate.
Gameplay is nice, with a small usage of monsters, like any starting map, but monster usage is kind of tough in the second part (using teleporting cacos and chain gunners on the near roofs above the structure--I was just thinking, that roof needs few more details...). Whatever; it is a cool start for some map pack of sorts, I liked it. Check it out, it's a nice and short effort ready to be played!
World of Winter - BloodyAcid
Doom 2 - GZDoom - Solo Play - 295535 bytes -
Reviewed by: Obsidian
They say (whoever "they" are :P) that you can use words to paint a picture, so I'll do my best to use my eloquent verbiage to draw you into the beauty that is the World of Winter. Picture if you will a techbase situated in a frozen wasteland, with ambient white light playing across the surface of the ice (or alternatively look at the first screenshot). Careful inspection and acrobatic feats will uncover a BFG and some ammunition concealed in an icy alcove, although what this BFG will be used for remains a mystery. Searching the exterior of the far techbase reveals a hidden switch that allows you to claim the key need to penetrate further into this forsaken base. With nerves set on edge, you open the door and chance across a desolate cavern. You venture into the cavern...
...and fall into a HOM pit with a Cyberdemon in it (screenie 2). Yep, this whole wad is a playful reinterpretation of everyone's favourite masterpiece, Wow.wad! Bloodyacid made a thread for this a few weeks back to see who would fall for it, and I have to admit that walked into it boots and all: he named the blimmin' thing wow.wad on MediaFire and I still didn't see it! I need my head checked or something. Anyway, World of Winter is an excellent and funny wad that does its level best to create an excellent atmosphere and then subsequently rip it to pieces. The only thing I lament is that BloodyAcid ruins the surprise in the readme on /idgames, but oh well. Hopefully we can expect more wads of this calibre (atmosphere or comedy, either is fine by me) from BloodyAcid in the future. Recommended.
Frying Pan - BloodyAcid
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - N/A - 98404 bytes -
Reviewed by: Obsidian
Um... yeah, a ZDoom mod that allows you to use a frying pan. The weapon sprites and sounds are all right and the backswing is pretty neat, but unfortunately the weapon speed leaves something to be desired. If you feel like using a frying pan in your wad, then by all means knock yourself out.
Octoshotgun - BloodyAcid
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - N/A - 77100 bytes -
Reviewed by: Obsidian
This is another weapon mod by Bloodyacid, but this one is a little more interesting: a shotgun with 8 barrels! Excited yet? Silliness aside, it is pulled off pretty decently: the weapon sprites are well constructed, and the sheer force of this thing is just hilarious. Think Cyberdemon in four shots. The only gripe I have is that the pickup sprite looks a bit cobbled together, but then again this isn't exactly supposed to be overly serious. If you want to add a bit of over-the-top fun to your wad, I recommend the Octoshotgun: it may be silly, but at least it isn't FORCED and PAINFUL! ;-D
The Throne Room - Michael Wildt
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 27682 bytes -
Reviewed by: Memfis
Short map from 1995, looks crude but it's fun to play. Well balanced and with numerous traps, The Throne Room should provide a decent challenge even for most modern players. The highlight is the main hall fight, with more and more monsters appearing as you make your way to the throne. The yellow key trap is good fun too, at least if you don't snatch the invulnerability sphere immediately. If flat rectangular rooms with minimum detail can't stop you from enjoying the gameplay, check this one out.