The /newstuff Chronicles #376
Classic Doom - Posted by Bloodshedder
- 56 Comments
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Island of Chunika - Ruba
Vanilla - Solo Play - 32651 bytes -
Reviewed by: 40oz
Mapping for the sake of mapping.
This map hardly brings anything to the table worth criticizing. The map has three rooms (including the exit room). The map is pretty playable with minimal difficulty. There's a little less than 20 monsters and there's enough ammo to kill them plus a berserk pack. The map isn't very pretty. I'm at a loss for words with this one. It's simple and takes like 45 seconds to beat.
Speed of Corvus - Walter
Skulltag - CTF - 1716010 bytes -
Reviewed by: The Ultimate DooMer
A trio of CTF maps for Heretic, although actually playing them will be a bit of a challenge as the maps are broken even in Skulltag. Looking at the maps themselves, the first is an outdoor rocky chasm map that looks the part, the second is a fort that could easily have been a retextured Doom map (looking at the architecture), and the third is a tight figure-8 dungeon map. The very fact that it's Heretic CTF means that it's worth giving them a go (they're rarer than anything this side of Hexen), but one must fix beforehand.
Diablo - Sonny Wasinger (CONDUCTOR)
Vanilla - Solo Play - 65522 bytes -
Reviewed by: StupidBunny
This is an ancient map, dated 1995, which I must say hasn't really stood the test of time very well. And, to be honest, I'm not sure the map would've been that much fun in 1995 either. The problems with this map go well beyond the trappings of age, most of which are architectural, and are more fundamental to the map's enjoyability.
From early on, the most obvious failing of this map is that it is horribly cramped. This is a fairly common flaw among old maps, but that doesn't make it any less annoying. Even when the player is given freer, more open areas to work with, they still fill in quickly with monsters and are often devoid of any sort of cover (and often have blocking obstacles thrown about to make them even more aggravating.)
The map's other major flaw is the low supplies of ammo, which doesn't fit well with the large number of monsters (several hundred, a hefty count even by current standards) which are mostly battled in areas where the player doesn't have much protection. On top of that, the map is basically a series of cheap traps, with monster closets opening onto the player with several foes which the player will fight either in spaces without enough space to move, or with too much space and nothing to keep the player safe. The map is certainly possible, but it is difficult in the most tedious and unpleasant of ways.
As I sort of expressed already, the texturing and architecture are terrible, and improve only marginally as the map progresses. There's not much else to say about that.
In short, it's every stereotype of a bad 94/95 map, with the added foil of being way too big for its own good. Don't bother.
The Blowernator - Randy Stewart aka DuvalMagic
Vanilla - SP/Co-op/DM - 37941 bytes -
Reviewed by: StupidBunny
This WAD isn't bad, but it suffers from a combination of bad marketing and design elements that can only be described as odd. From the description online, we expect to be treated to a map which "is very difficult" in single player, and is designed as "an intense Cooperative level, or an awesome DeathMatch FragFest". In other words, we're expecting something really hard.
The notion that this could be anywhere near intense in coop is kind of hard to grasp, since the map is pretty easy in single player, with an initial monster count of less than 50 on UV and a fairly liberal distribution of ammo, health, etc. It isn't ridiculously easy, and the beginning is kind of tough, but it stops being difficult pretty early on, and from there it isn't a very long map. The gameplay is okay, and I respect the author's attempts at making the map more open and interconnected (which help in making it decent as a DM level), but the way the monsters are placed largely doesn't use that interconnectivity to full advantage.
Visually, the map isn't terrible, but the odd texture selection and bland architecture fail to give the map much character or atmosphere.
One of the more peculiar things about the map are the huge caches of weapons and powerups that the player gets at the very end, after all the monsters are dead. These oversized reserves of goodies really shouldn't have been put in, as they're redundant in SP or coop and would ruin any DM game by the mere fact that they're free, easily accessed and clustered together in one or two spots.
This author clearly has potential in both visual and gameplay design, but there are just too many poor decisions in the construction of this map. Not a terrible map, kind of fun for a 5-10 minute romp, but there's little substance and it's probably not worth your while.
DOOM: Threshold Of Pain - John Gourley AKA scalliano
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 42836400 bytes -
Reviewed by: st.alfonzo
If a picture says a thousand words, and a sculpture says a thousand words in 3d... just how much talking would a PSX-inspired mapset staged on a remote Neptunian Hell bound satellite called Triton do? A page's worth? A chapter? A Michael Palin (roughly equivalent to two days non-stop chatter)? I mean, seeing as Doom is considered something of an art form these days, it only seems right to ask... But then again, maybe not. Because the question I have only now just posed - neatly dancing around the improbability of your never actually guessing this to be the case - was perfectly rhetorical anyway, meaning that not only do you not have to answer it, but that there was absolutely no reason to phrase such a ridiculous question in the first place, and I would have been better off doing something more productive with my time like booby-trapping my front door for Halloween goers,* or actually doing my job.
...That's right, loyal /newstuff readers: Threshold of Pain speaks volumes of quality.
First things first though; it must be mentioned that if you don't like PSX Doom, or even any other such atmospherically attuned variant within the Doom franchise (such as Doom64), this may very well not be the wad for you. Why? Because the levels have "PSX" written all over them in big, bold, but thankfully invisible letters, covering just about every square inch of the wad right down from the heavily endorsed use of coloured lighting to the sound effects and ambient music. Mind you, this isn't to say that you'll instantly throw up at the mere sight of it if you don't like this sort of thing, for the gameplay is good enough such that any dislike toward the wad's inspirational source may be safely brushed aside to allow an experience that is at the very least pleasurable if not at all engrossing.
As Scalliano's first major release, Threshold can certainly be described as an "undertaking", and it's certainly the sort of thing that we need to see more of. In deriving from a port which builds its game upon atmosphere and spooks, it only seems fitting (and necessary!) that the gradual though overtly paradigmatic descent from the tech-type Triton base into Hell is as creepy and as grueling as is Doomingly possible. This is probably the strongest point of Threshold, setting aside its faithfulness to the PSX port as well as anything else you might find to be subjectively superior, and it's a good thing that it is, too, because there are certain elements - most notably in the additional features department - which may have ended up dragging the whole wad kicking and screaming down into the "something less notable" category had this particular boon not stepped in and taken centre stage.
Pour example: While some of the new opponents such as the Lord of Heresy and Plasma Zombie variant spice up gameplay by keeping you on your toes a bit more, other types of demon (Nightmare Demons/Cacodemons) are more superfluous to gameplay than anything else, slowing the player down and becoming too great a drag to combat. Of course, this is something of a common and unsavoury accusation, and it's worth reminding oneself that in these cases it's all about how the monsters are used in correlation with the map layout, but still what detracts from the overall experience is the feeling that actually, had some of these beasties been swiped off the board altogether, we might have been left with something that felt a bit more polished. Something more orderly and concise. And this is an opinion which can be reinforced further by taking note of a few other inclusions, such as the Unmaker, which in merely having an off centre weapon sprite feels completely at odds with the rest of the arsenal, and hence with the entire wad.
The difficulty starts off as being quite intense compared to most mapset openings, and escalates at a slow but adaptable pace towards something more visceral. An arguably scarce supply of ammunition about the first and second levels means inexperienced Doomers might run into a few bouts of trouble here and there, but it really isn't anything to write home about, and by the time you mosey on down to levels 3 or 4 you'll most likely have bullets coming out your eyes. The monster makeup can prove unbalancing in places and disrupting to the flow of gameplay, though, so it's worth keeping a fast finger poised over the number 6 in case you get twitchy.
The design is quite impressive overall, although less in the sense of abundant detailing. Rather, it aims to contribute to that moody PSX atmosphere, an end to which it does so very effectively as mentioned. Some rooms feel a little too lacking in architectural verve (either because they're too rectangular or bland looking), but by contrast there are certain areas that light up (or is that darken?) the playing experience enough that these faults can be safely overlooked. With regards to layout, some of the levels are outright massive, and from the opening level's eerie setting and length the maps seem to carry on growing, along with the monster count, until you arrive at a stage where the levels seem quite epic in scope, which is an interesting thing to note, as "epic" isn't quite the first word that comes to mind when concerned with a PSX-inspired wad. As a result of all this, then, there is a rather unique sense of progression to the mapset that works very, very well, leaving you once again with the snug sense of accomplishment by the time you finally arrive at the pulse pounding climax and pry your well earned victory from the stinking claws of the gargantuan overlord.
Like a boss.
A triumph, then? Most certainly. Even if you're not the kind of individual who revels in this sort of style, there is as mentioned plenty enough material to sate your hate, disregarding too the fact that half of this material does feel sort of off key. Indeed, you should perhaps forget I even mentioned it at all really, because, to promote the horrendously disused words of John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton:
"Power tends to corrupt, but Threshold of Pain was really good wad, and I recommend you play it. Absolutely!"
*Surely I can't be the only one who tricks children at Halloween? I mean, where's the variety with kids these days?
Green brick fortress - johnfulgor
Vanilla - Solo Play - 107589 bytes -
Reviewed by: The Ultimate DooMer
A green brick map, as the title suggests. The alignments suggest a bad 1994 style map, the layout also suggests a bad 1994 style map, the detail also...you get the picture. But worst of all is the apparent obsession with throwing up hitscanners in your face and behind your back all the time; eventually I turned on god mode and forgot about it. There's worse out there, but it's still pretty much one to avoid.
Eratspeed - Various
Boom Compatible - Deathmatch - 754356 bytes -
Reviewed by: The Ultimate DooMer
A set of 6 small maps for DM, using a custom graphics set. Some look OK, but others look good despite the fact they were made in a day, and the new graphics aren't bad too. I tested it with 4-6 players and it was pretty fun, despite a couple of maps having questionable weapon placement. Any more would be too many though, and some of these would probably suit 1v1 too. Not a bad set.
Speedmap 1 - Przemyslaw
Vanilla - Solo Play - 14188 bytes -
Reviewed by: The Ultimate DooMer
A small map that was inspired by the art of speedmapping. A complex of single-texture square rooms/passages with a few switches and a lift or two await, all with no detail (as it is a speedmap). The gameplay doesn't work either, as most of the ammo is behind the mobs you need to kill with it...which isn't the end of the world unless it involves a long-ish 64-wide passage (check) or there's an archie between said mobs and ammo (check). Might work if you want to defeat the challenge mentioned above, otherwise probably not.
Serpent: Resurrection - Stephen Clark (The Ultimate DooMer)
GZDoom - Solo Play - 43658712 bytes -
Reviewed by: Traysandor
Serpent: Resurrection is the first major project anyone's seen for Hexen in quite some time. It takes the core gameplay of Hexen, adding new game mechanics and a distinct RPG-type style to it, all while maintaining the classic Hexen-style gameplay that fans of the game are familiar with. It also takes advantage of the scripting options afforded by the latest version of GZDoom, a feat not seen in many other Hexen wads.
Starting up a new game, you pick from the classic Fighter/Cleric/Mage characters and roll for your initial stats, as if you were starting a brand-new character in a game of D&D. I settled on a powerful Fighter after a number of rolls to see the output range. After watching the opening intro, I browsed through town to see what could be done before boarding the ship to the true opening of the game.
After arriving on the eastern island, I scouted around the very large opening map. I looked in the houses to find some trinkets and usable items, and found a couple keys, which opened houses containing Hexen weapons the player should be very familiar with. Then it was time to handle the first of many Hexen-style puzzles contained within the game.
As you beat up on the monsters, you slowly gain experience and level up. When you level up you can increase your stats to gain a better advantage over the resident monster population. I focused mostly on Strength and Agility so that I could kill stuff faster with melee and be more likely to dodge incoming attacks, but I tossed a few points into the other stats as not to be completely incompetent.
In the early going (through the first Hexen puzzles) you're going to be using your melee a lot to deal with the monsters. As you progress through the game and find the various weapons scattered about, it mostly becomes a matter of managing your mana to deal with the map's initial monster population, then relying on melee and excess mana to clean up once most of the stuff is dead.
The plot and flow of the overall game is well thought out, and is pretty open. You can go anywhere and explore most of the maps freely, but you'll need to find the respective keys and finish the puzzles to progress to the next area of Caldera. The monster population (which includes monsters borrowed from Heretic) and new weapons keeps things interesting, especially on the higher difficulties.
On the downside of this wad, the first few maps may disinterest some players, as they don't really represent the rest of the game. Some maps are a lot bigger than they need to be and can leave some players rather confused. I also found the inventory system and the hotkeys for most of the items rather cumbersome and confusing. A little work could have been done on the inventory to skip items you don't have any of.
Overall despite the flaws, Serpent: Resurrection is very well done. If you're a Hexen fan, you will most likely get a lot of enjoyment out of this wad, and it will keep you busy for quite some time. For those who haven't dusted off Hexen in a while, this wad will give you a reason to come back and give this a try.
DemWAD01 - vdgg
Vanilla - Solo Play - 50971 bytes -
Reviewed by: StupidBunny
An interesting little one-map WAD. The first thing one will notice about it, and probably the most distinctive feature of the WAD, is the widespread use of irregular architecture in both hellcave and techbase contexts. Irregular architecture is a very hit-and-miss thing, but in this case I think the author succeeded in using it to his advantage. The design is simple but well-done, and the texture choices are good, and it's nice to see a map hold together so well with more than just rectangular/circular architecture.
The gameplay is well-done, and is best at the beginning where there are a number of carefully placed monsters to keep the player moving. As it's a short map, there's not a whole lot of detail I could go into, but it was certainly a fun map to play with the exception of a tedious little run-and-jump puzzle in the middle. It's not too difficult, but it's still well-designed enough to make it enjoyable.
It's a short map, but I think the author has hit on a good style here. It's a refreshing playthrough for its unusual design, and I hope to see more of the like from the author.
plcastle.zip - Tintinna Bullum
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 64387 bytes -
Reviewed by: Never_Again
A short single-map WAD for Plutonia, compact, tight and tastefully designed. Mostly small good-looking, if simple, outdoor bits with a few cramped hallways and a lot of teleporting. The action is lively, although not hard. The cramped design may be not to everyone's taste, but it offers a couple of creative moments, like telefragging the Baron and the Hell Knights to save ammo (not that you have to, there's plenty of it from start to finish). The weapon/ammo placement is the level's weaker side - it would have been more of a challenge and fun to start with the plain shotgun instead of the double barrel; and the plasma rifle, although tucked away in a secret, makes the final fight trivial.
That's the good part, now the bad. The text file doesn't mention anything about the port(s) required/tested with, but the map is neither vanilla nor limit-removing compatible. In prBoom-plus the whole thing turns into an impassable HOM-riddle mess at the end - or earlier, if you get lucky and find the first secret - on the Final DOOM compatibility level. On the Boom complevel you get stuck after the red-key door (opening it crashes prB+'s software renderer, by the way, so OpenGL here is the only way): the lift leading underground won't lower. You can proceed only by enabling the Linedefs w/o tags apply locally and Use passes through all special lines under Options / General / Compatibility With Common Mapping Errors. Alternatively, you can use ZDoom: the console reports a few texture errors but otherwise everything works fine (tested with v2.5.0).
These annoyances aside, overall it's an enjoyable first effort. The author would do well to test with more than one port in the future.
Hacx - IWAD release (v1.2) - Banjo Software
Vanilla - Solo Play - 7708242 bytes -
Reviewed by: The Ultimate DooMer
Since I hadn't played this yet, I thought the IWAD release would be a good time to. In case you don't know (as I didn't to be honest before it showed up here) it's a commercial-turned-freeware TC that's being worked on for source port and coop compatibility, and eventually to make it more complete (more here). Currently it has 21 maps, set in a variety of places as you try to hack your way out of trouble. It has that semi-cartoony/semi-realistic indie-FPS feel (kinda like Strife and Harmony) due to the graphics and the nature of the locations (some of which are psychedelic and distinctly abstract), but generally there's enough detail to avoid looking tacky and amateurish; in fact, some places look rather good.
Gameplay is still Doom, but it's not just a graphical sheen over a standard wad...some of the weapons behave slightly differently, as do most of the monsters. In fact once you get going (the first few maps are quite boring), you'll realise that there's a lot of differences, really. Unfortunately it's not very hard; there's too much health/ammo, and apart from a few neat set-pieces and some nasty mobs later on, it's all fairly samey (run round rooms/passages, find keys/switches, kill stuff that's alone or in small groups). It does flow nicely though, as nothing takes a while to kill. (Although some maps might confuse you.)
If you haven't played this before I'd suggest trying; it has its own quirks and can be a blast if you can put up with its flaws.
Jade Earth - Jodwin
Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 1426731 bytes -
Reviewed by: The Ultimate DooMer
So the UAC managed to build this massive green base underground while no-one was looking...so naturally you get sent in to kill stuff while no-one was looking. And it is massive, probably 4-5 times bigger than your average sized base, with 1100 mobs to keep you busy. While green brick doesn't go with techbases, it does work here, and there are other bits of green (and brown of course) thrown in too. The only problem is that everywhere looks the same, with nothing really to distinguish which part of the base or which side of the big cave bit you're on (this is where a few custom textures could've been useful, eg. Doom 1's computers and Unreal's monitors to add variety to the techy bits). But still, it's highly detailed, looks impressive and has its own atmosphere thanks to the mashup of gothic and base graphics.
Gameplay is linear and can get dull in some places, but there are many set-pieces that command attention, including some radioactive ones and creative large-scale ones, too. There's enough of these to keep it interesting, plus the health/weapons/ammo are quite well balanced, and the result is an epic fun map that's reasonably challenging in some places. As single maps go, it's right up there and well worth playing.
@ GY@NT M@P - Ruba
Limit Removing - Solo Play - 239591 bytes -
Reviewed by: Never_Again
I read a lot about how much Ruba's maps suck but had never actually played one to the end. Now that I did, I can state that most of the unflattering epithets thrown at the author's previous work would be fully appropriate here as well. If I had to sum it up in a few words, my choice would be "dull, plain, ugly and weird".
Blocky full-bright outside bits alternate with darker indoors with no theme to tie them together. There is next to zero detail and precious little architecture. Whatever haphazard snippets of ideas the author might have that are worth having a look at are ruined by excessive copy-and-pasting. The techy area with the fire columns (seen in the third screenshot) could have been the level's highlight had they not been repeated over and over and over ad nauseam. The yellow key area with its green marble and a slimefall is another stab at forging a style; too bad it comes after a long featureless copy-pasted maze done almost entirely with Wolf3D textures. And the last third of the map is another long copypasta maze done in two textures, a red one this time.
Given all these shortcomings, I was surprised to find myself persevering through to the end. There are some decent fights, although action tends to be of the brainless repetitive variety. The oddest thing about this WAD is the item placement: throughout the level there are identical little piles of ammo and health - four stimpacks, a bullet clip, a shell cart, a rocket, a cell and a backpack - every few steps. For a few crazy moments there I thought I had selected "I'm Too Young To Die" by accident! But no, this was Ultra-Violence. Well, there's not much challenge if your health is guaranteed to never drop below 40 for more than a second or two, is there?
Overall, this looks and tastes like a slightly-below-average 1995 WAD. Certainly playable, if you ask me; whether you should bother playing it depends on how bored you are. Unlike the author's tour-de-force, Killing Adventure, there is neither matchstick art nor intermission screen confessions of always wanting to be a lesbian here.
What Is This - Boon Lived
ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 3144720 bytes -
Reviewed by: Never_Again
This is a collection of 14 maps for DOOM2, ranging from tiny to small in size and bare to plain in design. The author (an interesting name if read backwards) warns in the TXT those who "don't like crap detail, misalignments or anything of that sort" to stay away from his WAD. My curiosity was spiked and, as the "Advanced engine needed" line in the text file says "None" and the WAD is not in the /Ports section, I fired it up in prBoom-plus, intending to record some first-attempt demos (FDAs) on it. This is how it went (warning: a long read, scroll down for the summary):
MAP01 - this level justifies the WAD's title best. You start in a large square with four brown building, each holding a Cyber and a couple of Revenants, connected by green brick walls populated by some cannon fodder, and quickly find out that's all there's to it to the level. It is centered around what looks like a plaza with a pillar in the middle of it - this part actually might look good if the whole thing were not full-bright. As it is, you can press one of the skull switches on the pillar and get to the exit switch on the side of one of the brown buildings in under ten seconds. There's not much point in staying longer: even if you manage to kill most of the monsters with the meager ammo provided, there's little you can do about the four Cybers. The most pointless level of the bunch. At least it has a nice epic music track (uncredited) to go with it. And then you're treated to a MIDI rendition of "Stairway to Heaven" at the tally screen, hmmm.
MAP02 is a bare square building with silver walls, criss-crossed by four wide wooden-floor walkways and with two pillars on top of each other in the middle. Four switches in the corners lower the walkways, allowing you to get out into the only slightly less bare outdoors. There are two switches there on the opposite sides of the map; each is supposed to lower one of the aforementioned pillars, revealing the exit teleport. And this is where I got stuck playing on the DOOM2 complevel: neither switch seemed to do anything. Heeding the author's warning about activating the switch in the east first didn't help. The problem is that there's an Imp you cannot see on the top pillar, stuck in the ceiling. In vanilla such stuck monsters prevent the sectors they're in from lowering. After switching to the Boom complevel I did manage to exit, but the FDA was trashed and the map left a sour taste in my mouth. As for the gameplay, the entire opposition consists of about 30 Imps you can simply run past and exit in about 30 seconds. Contrary to the author's claims, it makes no difference which switch outside you activate first - west-to-east works just as well as east-to-west. The included music track - Haddaway's "What Is Love?" - is an odd choice for a DOOM level, and some will probably hate it; it certainly made me smile hearing it here.
MAP03 is an even smaller and more bare-looking level. It's basically a pit with two Cybers, surrounded by a walkway with three Barons. Jump into the pit, hit the three switches, get back up and exit. The only possible point of interest is getting the Cybers kill the Barons for you, although there's enough plasma to deal with them all. The level is slightly darker than the first two, but again there's no light variation and next to zero detail. The upbeat big band track adds a comical flavor to it.
MAP04 starts with a row of toilet stalls - a rather inconspicuous beginning. As the TXT file warns, the walls are shoot-through and you have to walk through one of them to get the shotgun and a secret credit. The stall on the opposite side of the row has a shootable door, but the door won't open because its sector is missing the required tag - a typical ZDoomism. In prB+ you can work around it by going to the last page of Options / General and enabling Linedefs w/o tags apply locally in the "Compatibility With Common Mapping Errors" section. The stall doesn't have any goodies except a rocket (very useful on a level that has no rocket launcher) and doesn't count as a secret, but if you can't get in you won't be able to kill the Zombie inside and get 100% kills.
The second and last area of the map is a dark wide chamber with assorted wooden furniture. There's finally some light variation here; unfortunately the stark contrast between the full-bright and pitch-black areas doesn't look good, and the strobing lights on the ceiling and the floor in the middle fail to improve that. The unmarked blue key doors lead outside to an unmarked exit walkover line, and you can easily miss the second secret sandwiched between them. Whether you need those Medkits is a moot point, though - you can exit without firing a shot in under 15 seconds. Another pointless map, and the cartoonish background track makes you wonder if the author is being serious. In ZDoom the tally-screen music after this level is a triumphant orchestral piece, probably to celebrate the epochal achievement of making it through three Mancubuses, a Baron, and a bunch of Zombies and Imps.
The tiny full-bright MAP05 is just a small hut on waterfront with six monsters in it. You can try dodging the Archvile and getting into the secret nook inside to grab a chaingun and a shotgun, or you can just run out into the water and exit in three seconds flat. According to the MAPINFO the title is "Beach?". The author's doubt is understandable: I've never seen a green beach either.
The soundtrack is another happy piece of fluff that would go well with a children documentary about winter in the forest. After this map ZDoom treats you to an intermission screen that, in lines scrolling out of sight, informs you that "you penetrated the demons defences" and encourages you to "reak havoc upon the many gangs". I wonder if that's an oblique homage to Action Doom.
MAP06 is a large brown stone square with a large, low brown stone square building in the middle and a wide brown road around it. Yes, the whole thing is done in video games' most popular color. In ZDoom that is offset somewhat by the cityscape sky from DOOM2's second episode, assigned by the MAPINFO. In engines with no MAPINFO support everything is hopelessly brown. The level is uniformly full-bright on the outside and uniformly dark on the inside. The building is a sort of a dark brown maze with an Arachnotron in each corner and some Imps, Zombies and a couple of Chaingunners roaming about. If someone finds that too much of a challenge, he can look for the secret with a plasma rifle and a rocket launcher in it. Most of the remaining minute and a half will be then spent tracking down stray baddies walking the road outside. The broken line of gray divider rectangles running down the middle of the road constitute the detail. The worst map so far, although the background track is not bad, sounds kinda mean and familiar, though I can't place it.
MAP07 is the first sign of a light at the end of the tunnel. Like the preceding levels, it's uniformly full-bright, square and bare; unlike those, there's a hint of architecture and gameplay present. True, you can exit in 30 seconds and most of that time will be spent waiting for the exit teleport pads to lower; but going for 100% kills and secrets presents the WAD's first real challenge. Even if you hoard every bullet and shell and manage to survive fisting all the Zombies and Chaingunners at the start, there's not enough ammo to kill all eight Arachnotrons in order to raise the wall to the Soul Sphere secret. The secret has every weapon in it as well, which should be enough to deal with the remaining monsters - too bad you can only reach it on I'm Too Young to Die and Nightmare skill levels (you get double the ammo there), although most players won't have a chance in hell of making it that far on NM. Another decent music track, doesn't fit the level well, though.
MAP08 is a maze-like level that falls short of being a real maze due to its small size. Despite being mostly dark and very cramped, it's the best-looking level so far thanks to the author's attempt at some lighting and reasonable texturing for a change. There's actual level progression with a key needed to exit the level, but with the monster count under 30 (the sole Baron being the toughest) it feels pretty much as inconsequential as the rest. The music is again something upbeat and nameless. The level is followed by another intermission screen in ZDoom that starts with "Oh dear!" - I don't think I need to quote the rest.
MAP09 is two mirror images of DOOM2's MAP01 connected to each other, with tougher monsters replacing some of the Zombies and Imps. Where you had to go right in the original you now have to make a left turn, and vice versa. Despite having a few Revenants and two Archviles among the replaced baddies, it is still a small, not very difficult map that you can run through in about 15 seconds; you just have to be careful in a couple of spots. At least it plays like a normal level, which cannot be said for the most of the preceding maps. And the soundtrack is simply excellent: moody and sinister - perfect DOOM music.
MAP10 is two small buildings with courtyards surrounded by stone walls. Once again brown dominates and it's mostly full-bright, however, there's something like porticoes separating the buildings from the yards and there are actual shadows under those - a most unexpected surprise! The architecture and the monster count are decent, the fights are OK, with a small crowd of imps to plow through at one point. A few flaws notwithstanding - one of the secrets is again inaccessible due to an untagged shootable door and there are a couple of paper-thin walls around the perimeter - this is a second decent map in a row. And the background track is a suitably hectic, mean piece.
MAP11 ends the decent streak. The starting area is an ugly-as-sin full-bright mess of clashing textures, and after you kill the four Barons and the four Imps you find yourself hopelessly stuck. Examining the map in an editor reveals that four of the walls of the starting area have the 666 tag. As neither vanilla nor the Boom specs support this tag outside MAP07 and MAP32, and MAPINFO support is far from universal or consistent, the map is broken in anything but the ZDoom family of ports. Even if you do get outside, you find little to see or do - just another cramped courtyard with a few Arachnotrons you can run past to one of the four exits. I also have to question the appropriateness of using The Beatles' "Here Comes The Sun" as the soundtrack.
MAP12 is the most impressive level visually. Nice use of lighting and texturing combines to create a sinister feel. There's also a neat one-try-only secret at the start. That about sums up the good part. The bad is that it's another small inconsequential map with a handful of monsters and no gameplay that you can exit in five seconds without firing a shot, with another ridiculous choice for the soundtrack - Dire Straights' "Money For Nothing". There's also a secret exit to MAP31 that relies on the 666 tag and MAPINFO's baronspecial and that you can only reach in ZDoom.
MAP31 is the secret level and is the most fun map to play. There's a whopping 118 monsters (heh), a good proportion of them heavyweights like Barons and Mancubuses, they are placed well, and you are given adequate means of disposing of them. There's good progression and well-devised secrets (hint: you must run counter-clockwise to get the big guns), although a couple of them are rather pointless; there's clever use of barely noticeable floor plates to release more baddies. The level is fairly non-linear so you can do it several different ways, but it all comes to nothing when you kill everything, find every secret only to realize that there's no exit.
There is also a fair share of the usual ZDoomisms, like the untagged shootable door in the Archvile chamber that hides the teleporter to the Soul Sphere secret, and the more critical inability to activate the switch that lowers the blue key, because right in front of the switch there's a linedef special (Scroll Left) that blocks the Use action in vanilla and Boom-based ports. In prB+ you can work around this mapping error with Use passes through all special lines found in the same section of Options mentioned above in the MAP04 paragraph, but that doesn't work during demo recording. Another trashed FDA and another disappointment, made worse by the fact that if not for the bugs and the lack of exit this could have been a fine map.
In ZDoom you get an MP3 soundtrack here, something like early Ministry or Front 242, by the way. Not bad, but gets a bit annoying after a few loops.
The final map, MAP13, is tiny and full-bright (what a surprise). Unlike the rest, it's kind of a mini-slaughterfest. There's a square platform with a gray-and-red checkerboard pattern on it (according to the MAPINFO it's "A Game of Chess") with an assortment of monsters on the first two rows on each side in place of chess pieces. The Kings are Arch-Vile, the Queens are Revenants, the Bishops - Barons, the Knights - Cacodemons, the Rooks - Hell Knights and the pawns are Zombies. Push the button at the start and the invisible walls around the monsters (glBoom-plus renders them as HOM, unfortunately) come down and the fun begins. Alternatively, you can just sneak between the "pieces" and run for the exit pillar in the center of the board. If you're going for 100% kills, the map is good for five-ten minutes. The soundtrack in ZDoom is another happy piece I don't recognize that fits a DOOM level just as fine as a saddle fits a cow. And after you beat the final map, you are treated to what sounds like a nursery rhyme played on an organ (fortunately, only in ZDoom).
TL;DR: WIT.WAD is a random collection of half-baked ideas and barebones beginnings of maps never finished; mostly dull, ugly and pointless. I imagine a lot of mappers have bits and pieces like this gathering dust on their hard drives; what prompted this particular author to upload his to /idgames is something I have difficulty imagining. The only decent maps here are MAP09, MAP10 and MAP31; additionally, MAP07 can be of interest to those who like a technical challenge (100% kills and secrets on UV in this case). The rest is a waste of players' time and hard drive space. Nevertheless, the WAD does make a a good case for those who claim that ZDoom is not the best engine to learn mapping with.
Friendly Pain Elemental - Brandon Gray
Vanilla - Solo Play - 92190 bytes -
Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
[Editor's note: This review is posted as it was submitted, with no editing. I couldn't make any sense of some parts in order to make it more resemble English. Maybe you can.]
before i begin to talk about this map, i just want to know from you guys a thing: anyone can do the "friendly pain elemental (c)" trick can give the title to the map?
No, because from how long i played this, i never activate the "friendly pain elemental (c)" but it looks so hostile from the first time i played this, although the part in the second shot... but i always think it was some bad programming on AI of enemies, but guys, this is a game from 1995, don't expect the damn Splinter Cell!
Leaving away this personal considerations, this map liked me, is not The Hatch or KDiZD but is a appreciable classic map, and you know how much i love the old-school looking levels... is nicely detailed and have some hard gameplay in semi "hell revealed" way, and some cute puzzle made will work your brain, but some other things made me downgrade this map:
1)Some hallways (maybe for fill in gaps in bad editing choices, or god knows the reason)are TOO dark.So dark as i need to activate the light cheat code for looking where the hell i going in. Next time you made some dark places, think to the poor golden-blinded like myself, thanks in advance!
2)The exit room is a piece of lurid crap. Also mr. Gray knew this, i made a screenshot to that part of the map but i decided to don't add it on the final review for your eyes sake. I just want to wrote this for make you understand: you go in a HOM room extremely bright, and when you running in this place searching some kind of things, you jump in a darkest room and exit. That's it.
But otherwise this is a delicious brown cavern map (barely like map28 start, it reminds me another map i've played long time ago but i don't remember it...) full of monsters, starting from the "friendly pain elemental (c)" that is not so much buddy....
I felt disappointed on the title of this level: "Friendly pain elemental"... it could be better a title like "valley of the demonic bastards" or "curse of the Pain elemental playing dirty".... but this is (another time) one my personal consideration about this level... whatever else, a nice try, but there's much better around there...