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Skullstuff Reviews #25 - It's about time. 
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Joined: Wed Dec 31, 1969 6:00 pm
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Whoops! The SSR team got a little side tracked! (Nothing new there!)

Also, we reviewed GBA Doom and Doom 64 for one reason or another.
So uh... read and then cry about it.



Lake of Fire
By: Capt. J3
Reviewed by: Weiss
Download

Mode of Play: Duel

"Screenshots of Lake of Fire"


Now I'm normally not too big on duel maps, but this interested me. 4 hours to make? I had to check it out.

First of all, I must say, I'm very impressed. This map is beautiful. I mean, this doesn't seem like 4 hours of work (especially to me, since I suck at mapping), it seems like maybe a week's worth or more, it's just that good.

On to gameplay: The map is fairly small, but this doesn't restrict gameplay in the slightest; I never felt like I was going to be trapped in a room or a corner at all, as there's multiple exits pretty much anywhere you go. It's a good size for a duel map, or hell, you could probably do 3-4 player DM if you really wanted to. There's plenty of stimpacks and medikits, as well as ammunition for the 3 guns you can find in the level (shotgun, SSG and rocketlauncher, unless there's a secret I didn't find).


If you want a really excellent duel map that isn't Greenwar or Dwango, this is probably what you want to play, at least for a little while. I have a feeling it's going to be played quite a lot.

-------------------------------------------------
How it looks: 9/10
Beautiful, and the name really fits the map.

How it plays: 9/10
Great map, just the right size for duels.

Replayability: High
You'll probably want to play this over and over again until you can get a Perfection medal in your sleep.

Overall: 9/10
A really fun map, with a perfect balance of beauty and gameplay.
















Doom (GBA)

By David A. Palmer Productions
Reviewed by: t3h Icy
Buy

Mode of Play: Cooperative/Survival/Deathmatch

Images


Firstly, the GBA port for Doom has many significant changes.

Changes


Going through the list, a lot of content was removed, but this is a port to a handheld system and was made in 2001, so it's not bad. However, some important aspects were removed, some parts of levels were leftover and the organization is somewhat poor.

Starting off is the gameplay itself. For a handheld port, this game runs at a reasonable rate, but lag is very noticeable and in large levels like Mount Erebus, it can be quite an annoyance. What's worse is that the best parts of the game were removed. Without a climactic battle with the Cyberdemon or Spider Mastermind, the player is left with battles against Barons and Cacodemons. The final level is merely the Fortress of Mystery from the original Doom. It's understandable that much content had to be removed, but taking out the two bosses of the game is really disappointing.

The next part of some disappointment is that many levels have been trimmed and torn apart, such as Containment Area, Spawning Vats and Command Center. Quite frankly, if the group that worked on this project felt it necessary to replace a few levels, it would have been more fun to play some more fresh levels, rather than what's left of some of the bigger levels, now in a vegetative state. Yet, in Containment Area and Halls of the Damned, there are some inaccessible sections leftover which actually makes getting 100% Secrets and Kills without using two Rocket Launcher bugs (using Rockets to get blasted through corners of levels and using the splash damage to hit monsters through solid walls). A waste of space and irritating for players that like to get 100%. There are other little things that show poor organization, such as a now unused switch in Limbo.

Still, perhaps the game should get some credit. After all, having Doom in your pocket and being able to play with friends is pretty neat (2P Coop, 2-4P DM), but other than the fact for being portable, this is a really lousy port for Doom.

Score:
---
How it looks: 8/10

Though pixelly and laggy at times, the graphics are quite good for a GBA game, though many textures were removed and it can be a tad bit of an eyesore with the overuse of some of the same textures to replace removed ones, but overall, the game holds well in the visual department.

How it plays: 6/10

Again, it is quite impressive for being a handheld port, but it could have been better, having the boss monsters, and better control. The game also could use some bug fixing, and some cleaning up. Multiplayer does make up for it though, but it's not the best game for a Single-player experience.

Overall: 7/10

8 years later, most people had Doom at some point on their computer and 8 more years later, this game is left in the dust, since Doom can actually be played on an iPhone these days. However, for any Doomers that have a GBA, it may be worth checking out, but don't expect Doom's best.







Doom 64 (N64)

Midway
Reviewed by: t3h Icy
Buy

Mode of Play: Survival (Single-Player)

Doom 64 is somewhat of a spiritual Doom 3 and had many new features and changes.

Changes


Doom 64 is a much darker and scarier game than Doom and Doom 2 having eerie music, satanic imagery, larger sprites, and the brightness is toned down for the most part. The visuals are much more improved having basic dynamic lighting, floors over floors, enhanced sprites, scrolling skies. It's a big step up and looks like a brand new game. The atmosphere of the game is much more hellish and frightening rather than rocking and rolling and shooting some bad guys. The actual levels have taken a step up in detail, and though aren't littered with nooks everywhere, the high-res textures work well enough to further add to the visuals.

The gameplay itself is fantastic as well, but unfortunately lacking for hardened Doomers. Throughout the 32 levels (4 are secret and 3 are bonus), there are many examples of excellent usage of Doom 64 features, such as Terror Core's 3D floors, Dark Entries' scripts, Hectic's traps and Alpha Quadrant's platform physics; all new to Doom. The addition of scripting allows Doom to be played in ways only seen in Hexen thus far. With a few exceptions of some subpar levels, all the levels present the player with an adventure through a spiraling battlefield, dark castles, hellish pits and many more worlds.

The difficulty of the game is where Doom 64 falls short. Arguably, the most annoying and tricky monsters were removed, and only replaced with a new boss and the Nightmare Imp (which is merely a semi-transparent Imp that has a faster projectile). The monsters themselves aren't as difficult in both quality and quantity (barring Pain Elementals). There is also plenty of ammo; enough to have a player leave the level with an excess from a "Pistol start". The Laser and the artifacts (or Demon Keys) are also rather gamebreaking. If a player goes through the secret levels, they can receive the Laser with one of the artifacts before Level 5, and is already capable of killing any monster in sight with ease. Of course it eats ammo like no tomorrow, but with ammo all over the place and careful usage, the Laser makes the game very easy. The final boss with the Motherdemon, while a powerful demon, succumbs to either the BFG9000 or the Laser effortlessly. On top with the artifacts, the teleporters containing all the demons before the final battle can be killed, and with enough speed, that leaves just a few Pain Elementals, rather than an entire army.

The Laser when fully powered (having all artifacts), fires in multiple directions, at an incredible speed rate and hits just as hard as plasma shots. Even Cyberdemons or the Motherdemon fall to the Laser within seconds. Furthermore, the Laser is an incredibly thin projectile. While that may be bad in some cases, it can sneak in between pillared barriers, most notably in No Escape, where the Cyberdemon(s) in the back of the room can be killed without releasing them.

As far as a challenge goes, this game is lacking. The only notably difficult parts are playing from a Pistol start (though this is still rather easy), the battle against the Motherdemon without the BFG9000 or Laser, Cat and Mouse, and the Mancubus cage "trap" in Outpost Omega. More or less could be added to the list as it's subjective, but those are the main difficulties.

Score:
---
How it looks: 9/10

Doom 64 takes Doom to a whole new level with the beautiful architecture, graphics and other visuals. A very large step forward for Doom, though some levels could be prettied up still, such as The Absolution, Hardcore or In The Void

How it plays: 8/10

The game plays very well and has many excellently-designed levels and usage of scripts and what Doom 64 is capable of. However, Doom 64 falls short in providing a difficult gameplay environment and players have to resort to personal challenges if they are wanting a tough game.

Overall: 8/10

Ultimately, Doom 64 is not a true sequel (per se), but the game is great and would be a blast for Doom fanatics. The sounds and graphics create an incredible environment and the changes make the game feel new, but still keeping the Doom style.













Doom Weapons in Heretic
by: NovaKiller
reviewed by: Weiss

Mode of play: Any.

Click here to download Doom Weapons in Heretic

Screenshots of "Doom Weapons in Heretic"


When I saw the topic for this WAD, I was ecstatic. A Heretic mod? Awesome.

Doom Weapons in Heretic does exactly what it says: It brings the weapons from Doom into Heretic. Cool, huh? While it IS quite fun to blast your favorite Heretic monsters with a shotgun, it's really just a cheap gimmick. However, I did like the fact that the weapons get a "powered up" mode when you use a Tome of Power; that adds the little extra flavor it takes to make a weapon-porting mod great.

While it was cool that someone took the time to port the Doom weapons over, the gameplay is... lacking, I suppose. It's just like playing a Doom megawad that uses the Heretic monsters and textures, but that's OK -- if it's fun to play, what's to complain about? This could possibly draw more people into the Heretic world. Which is a good thing, right?

Overall, this is a great way to get into Heretic, and it DOES provide something new... but it gets old quick.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

How it looks: N/A
You really can't judge sprites.

How it plays: 10/10
The weapons are perfect copies of the Doom weapons, and the powered up versions are pretty cool.

Replayability: 7/10
While it's great to blast Iron Liches with rockets, this mod gets old fast. But then again, don't all weapon mods?

Overall: 9/10
A solid Heretic weapons mod that may inspire others to join the Heretic community while providing some spice to those of us who love Heretic already.




(Removed redundant reviews. oops!)


There you have it; Hopefully we can get back on track (again) and continue to be nowhere near as good as NewStuff.
Until next year!


Wed Apr 14, 2010 3:48 pm
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It's nice that you guys reviewed Curse of D'Sparil. I think it's possibly the best Heretic coop episode WAD ever. DOOM coop WADs each have their strengths and weaknesses, so it's much harder to pick a favorite for DOOM, but Curse really stands out as the best amongst Heretic episodes.


ConflagratedCanine wrote:
Until next year!
:(


Wed Apr 14, 2010 3:59 pm
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Kinda odd you reviewed console ports, but all good none-the-less.


Wed Apr 14, 2010 4:01 pm
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Too bad 5 of the reviews are from the last Skullstuff. Other than that, pretty good reviews.


Wed Apr 14, 2010 4:19 pm
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Eric wrote:
Too bad 5 of the reviews are from the last Skullstuff. Other than that, pretty good reviews.


Are they now? They weren't in the right place in our forum if that's the case. :/


Wed Apr 14, 2010 4:20 pm
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From the Pokemon wad down, they were all done last time.


Wed Apr 14, 2010 4:22 pm
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It's great SSR isn't dead. Also GBA Doom was awesome. I still have it.


Wed Apr 14, 2010 4:26 pm
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Eric wrote:
From the Pokemon wad down, they were all done last time.


Piss; Well I'll remove them and reorganize the discussion forum.


Wed Apr 14, 2010 4:27 pm
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Nice to see that Skullstuff Reviews isn't dead, but it doesn't make any sense to me that multiple-year-old console Doom ports are being reviewed while actual Skulltag wads are neglected.


Wed Apr 14, 2010 6:05 pm
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esselfortium wrote:
Nice to see that Skullstuff Reviews isn't dead, but it doesn't make any sense to me that multiple-year-old console Doom ports are being reviewed while actual Skulltag wads are neglected.


It was t3h Icy's idea. I just rolled with it at the time.

Think of this as a weak revival.


Wed Apr 14, 2010 6:11 pm
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Good reviews. I thought the console port reviews were pretty neat too, it took me off guard.


Wed Apr 14, 2010 6:33 pm
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I just did them for fun as a bonus, but at the time I was expecting the usual amount of reviews.


Wed Apr 14, 2010 7:16 pm
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Woot, awesome reviews

Er..the only actually new-maps wad would be Capt. J3's Lake of fire.


Wed Apr 14, 2010 9:22 pm
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Jesus, I didn't know half of the changes in Doom 64 and I've played through it at least 50 times! Good reviews, I look forward to more :D


Wed Apr 14, 2010 10:39 pm
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It's worth clarifying that Doom 64 doesn't actually have scripting, hi-res textures, or 3D floors. It uses a macro system to combine multiple line actions, all of its textures are 64x64 or 32x128 or similar (Nintendo 64's rendering buffer can't handle textures larger than 4096 bytes) and so are actually a lower resolution than that of PC Doom, and it uses a combination of lowered-sky tricks (which work differently in Doom 64 than the vanilla behavior) and instant-raise/lower triggers to create 3D effects, similarly to how they're done in PC Doom WADs.

Also, everybody interested in Doom 64 should check out Kaiser's Doom64 EX, a sourceport whose aim is to recreate Doom64's engine for the PC as accurately as possible. It's not a TC or mod, and actually uses the game's rom file to generate its IWAD. :)


Thu Apr 15, 2010 10:15 am
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esselfortium wrote:
It's worth clarifying that Doom 64 doesn't actually have scripting, hi-res textures, or 3D floors.


I'm almost certain they are true 3D floors, scripts and such. Maps 11 (Terror Core) and 23 (Unholy Temple) are two examples that have 3D bridges. If they're not actually 3D, do you know how they were done? Hi-Res Textures; true. Scripting is definitely in though unless there's some really alternative coding. Map 17 (Watch Your Step) is a good example that has multiple sections of monsters warping in areas, and as you kill each group of monsters back at the starting area, the next groups spawn. However, it's not based on killing the entire last group, but a certain number of them (for example, I think you only need to kill 6 of the 8 Hell Knights before the Mancubi/Arachnatron "wave"). Also, the game doesn't check for the other Hell Knights (unlike the Barons in E1M8 for example) in earlier parts of the level, so I don't see how it's done without scripting.

Other examples include the camera effect in Map 32 (Hectic), the patterned switches in Map 23 (Unholy Temple) and many of the effects and traps in Map 15 (Dark Entries).

So if you're sure Doom 64 doesn't actually have those, do you know how they're done otherwise?


Thu Apr 15, 2010 11:48 am
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So, now that you've reviewed these two ports, are there any plans to review the other ports at some point (SNES, 32X, Jaguar, etc)?


Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:33 pm
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The Toxic Avenger wrote:
So, now that you've reviewed these two ports, are there any plans to review the other ports at some point (SNES, 32X, Jaguar, etc)?

Crap
Crap
Crap
Crap?


Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:35 pm
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What he^ said, and I've never played the other ports.


Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:57 pm
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t3h Icy wrote:
esselfortium wrote:
It's worth clarifying that Doom 64 doesn't actually have scripting, hi-res textures, or 3D floors.


I'm almost certain they are true 3D floors, scripts and such. Maps 11 (Terror Core) and 23 (Unholy Temple) are two examples that have 3D bridges. If they're not actually 3D, do you know how they were done? Hi-Res Textures; true. Scripting is definitely in though unless there's some really alternative coding. Map 17 (Watch Your Step) is a good example that has multiple sections of monsters warping in areas, and as you kill each group of monsters back at the starting area, the next groups spawn. However, it's not based on killing the entire last group, but a certain number of them (for example, I think you only need to kill 6 of the 8 Hell Knights before the Mancubi/Arachnatron "wave"). Also, the game doesn't check for the other Hell Knights (unlike the Barons in E1M8 for example) in earlier parts of the level, so I don't see how it's done without scripting.

Other examples include the camera effect in Map 32 (Hectic), the patterned switches in Map 23 (Unholy Temple) and many of the effects and traps in Map 15 (Dark Entries).

So if you're sure Doom 64 doesn't actually have those, do you know how they're done otherwise?

I just explained exactly how they did it in my post above.

A macro system is implemented, which allowed the mappers to string together multiple line actions into a single trigger, instead of actual scripting. They're somewhat similar in function to the voodoo doll conveyor-belt "scripts" that you would build in a Boom map, but implemented as an intentional engine feature rather than built as actual geometry in the map. (I mean they don't actually use voodoo dolls or conveyor belts, but the capabilities and results are comparable.)

An enhanced version of the lowered-sky hacks we all know and love from vanilla Doom and onwards, combined with instant-raising/lowering floors and ceilings, are used to create the effect of 3D bridges.

Kaiser's Doom64 EX emulates all aspects of the game's functionality, using the original ROM's level data, and from his knowledge working on the engine (looking at the original levels [not replicas of them, but the actual levels taken directly from the game ROM], disassembling the source code from the ROM, etc) I can guarantee you that neither 3D floors nor an actual scripting system are a part of Doom 64. And, clearly, it got by quite well without either, by way of the designers' skill and ingenuity :)


Thu Apr 15, 2010 2:51 pm
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