Thursday, October 4, 2012

Community Chest 4 (CCHEST4.WAD)

The Community Chest series is one of Doomworld's oldest institutions, with the first outing published in 2003. Now it's 2012 and between Duke Nukem Forever, Black Mesa, and the release of Community Chest 4, all signs point to the apocalypse being nigh. Doomworld forum superstar Eric "The Green Herring" Baker took full control of the project after some drama I was fortunate enough to avoid. The short story is, hey, here's Community Chest 4! It comes with a sweet-ass texture pack that's seen a lot of use prior to this release, most notably skillsaw's Vanguard from 2011 (but I know there are many more, and not just because I've seen whining about overuse of the resources).

CC4 actually has a story, though most of it is implied from the map order. Hell has struck again after four years of planning (a winking nod toward the development period). You'll be fighting your way through a ton of overrun military bases before arriving at the plot apex, wholly derived from lupinx-kassman's MAP20 and MAP21, where you battle a rogue AI planted by the demons which seeks to open the floodgates and damn Earth. The rest of the journey is through Hell itself, to varying degrees of nastiness.

Of course, Community Chest 4 looks great. It couldn't be any other way given a) its development time and more importantly b) the incredible texture pack which is used quite extravagantly by the involved authors. While a few of the level themes are familiar the majority of them are texture schemes not yet seen and should see. Well, I think you should. The obvious favorites are kassman's two levels, but singling them out of the pack (outside of the extra screenshots you see here) does no justice to the other thirty-one levels in the set, which has among other things a few levels aesthetically reminiscent of The Plutonia Experiment. If last year's Plutonia Revisited didn't whet your appetite, you'll find a few more gems in here for you among the other delights.

In terms of playability, I'm very pleased with Baker's motley crew. I think it's a great set, and while some levels are more difficult or longer than the average, I was rarely frustrated by combat or exploration. Community Chest 4 features a pretty varied bunch of layouts, with slaughtermaps, enormous adventures, secret-ridden compounds, and special effect explosions that will either hypnotize you or induce seizures. I'm more prone to the former, of course. On the whole, I would say be prepared for a challenge, whether it's a test of skill (pretty evenly distributed) or patience (you know who you are).

You should absolutely give CC4 a try. There are bound to be a few maps in here that will wet your whistle, and if they don't, you're just an idclev away from a change of pace. I see a lot of great authors in this set, some I already knew and some who came as quite a surprise (and some strangely absent... Where are you, Use3D?). It's cool to see the community project tradition going strong from 2003 and even as far back as Memento Mori (which to me are basically community projects in everything but name). I want to see all of these people make more maps, CC4-TEX.WAD or not. Here's to Doomworld!

by assorted authors

Renewed FaithMAP01
by William "[WH]-Wilou84" Huber
Nice short techbase with tons of zombies and imps to smite with your shotgun. They boil out in packs so it's all about prioritizing your targets. The large outdoor area contains the lion's share of the action; one of the details I liked was Huber opening up two more passages to the yard so that the player can't establish a choke point. Also a few low key but attention-grabbing ambushes on your way to the exit room. Very clean, very pretty. I loved that tantalizing glance at the inaccessible area in the opening room.

by Paul "skillsaw" DeBruyne
Very cool compact and action-packed techbase from DeBruyne. It's a CYOA, red or blue key first, after which you fight your way back to the beginning and take the other path. Each has its pitfalls, like the SSG trap on the red key side or the amount of exposure you'll suffer to the west. With both cards you can enter the yellow key wing, which has a trademark skillsaw teleport ambush, where small squads of enemies arrive in waves on both sides, with the finale letting loose a few revenants for your pleasure. Love the architecture in the final area.

Three is a CharmMAP03
by James "Phobus" Cresswell
Weirdness abounds in this spooky head trip. The opening screams Shores of Hell, but there's nothing too strange, excepting the dangerous trek across the planet's infested surface, through either canyon or cavern (you'll have to go back if you want to do the other). It's very dark, with enemies practically invisible until lit up by gunfire, a cool effect. The silhouettes of the imps against the white clouds in the sky are quite striking. I'm also a fan of the rusted out base on the other side of the level, which feels a bit like the darker areas of Espi's Suspended in Dusk. Standout encounter, definitely the yellow key trap.

MAP04Polluted Paths
by Stuart "Stewboy" Rynn aka "Forty-Two")
Another tech level, this one with a more earthy feel as a large portion occurs in some kind of cavern, either natural or artificial. Stewboy ratchets up the difficulty with more hardbody enemies and a lot of single shotgun time before the welcome introduction of the SSG. He gets a lot of mileage out of the pillar room containing the red key card; you'll be subjected to several entrenchments from that area as you're brought back inside. My favorite encounter is the first visit to the subterranean portion, where monsters seem to come from all sides and you have to carve out a safe space. Also enjoyed that sneaky canyon ambush from above.

Installation DecrepitMAP05
by Alice Jameson
Alice gives us a condemned UAC base with a dark secret. It's got some nice features, like the sewer pumps or the tunnels below with those really cool faux-curved wall lights. There's also a silent teleporter to make the level seem more 3D than it really is. I like the way the normal area transitions to the Hell breach. Gameplay has gotten increasingly devious, with some sneaky bits like that blue key ambush (very neat) and the finale, which has some cool usage of transparencies and is suitably ostentatious with those transparent holo-textures. She should really make more levels!

MAP06Survival Instincts
by Adam Windsor
The illustrious Adam Windsor supplies some kind of infernal tech fortress which you must fight your way through and out to the other side. It's rigged with more incidental fights that let monsters wander rather than anything carefully choreographed, which makes it all the more dangerous as enemies are liable to sneak up on you, particularly the huge rush that comes for you after entering the southern area, my standout encounter. While you're wheeling around and dodging fireballs try to note the cool little platforming puzzles here and there that lead to goodies. Very fun stuff.

by James "Phobus" Cresswell
Hitting upon a now familiar theme, Phobus provides another level with two techbase portions with an interceding run through a rocky planet surface. It's considerably more difficult though, with crossfire being the main aggressor. You must be forever on your guard against all the enemies either sniping from afar or lurking around corners in the darkness (like that very dirty revenant ambush at the north-central teleporter). The western base has some of the nastiest sections, like the canyon shootout or that lifting shield that exposes you to a bevy of hitscanner fire. There's also a neat bit where you reenter through the entryway, prompting an army of zombies to appear, where rocket fire can be quite cathartic. Tough but cool.

MAP08Cold Reception
by "Mithran Denizen"
Mithran Denizen's entry is a snowed-in techbase with the requisite dark cavern sections populated with imps and other nasties. It's a remarkably dense level, fielding sixteen secrets, many of which are nested. There's also a secret key which opens several hidden switches which grant access to – well, it's all secret, see. The whole thing reminds me of something Bob Evans might have done, which means that if you don't find ANY of the secrets (some easier than others), you will be shamefully confined to the single shotgun and chaingun for the entire level, which makes the whole thing move like molasses. Some cool fights, though, if you can get into the plasma rifle room or that outer yard with the barons / cacodemons.

by William "[WH]-Wilou84" Huber
Huber takes things in a bit of a different direction with this offering, evoking shades of Plutonia with a cursed fortification lining the walls of a flooded gorge in the mountains. Some really great visuals, here; excellent use of midtextures simulating 3D architecture. It's pretty nasty, using crossfires to keep players on their toes in the more open areas and devious, congested combat in the interiors. Don't be surprised if you fail to survive your first foray into a new area. Standout encounter for me was the red key trap, pinning the player between two arch-viles while spectres and revenants gang up on you.

MAP10Inner Fear
by Ronald "Dutch Devil" Lubbelinkhof
I'm used to seeing Devil's techbase maps, so this gorgeous, marble temple came as quite a treat. It's got more than 500 monsters with some growth potential to boot. "Inner Fear" starts out fairly constricted but as you hit switches and gather keys, you'll see the layout start to open up, with some nice shortcuts popping up here and there. As is his style, expect tons of teleport ambushes (which can get on a bit). They're not what I would call bullshit, but they give the map an atypical feel as the enemies that don't spawn both ahead of and behind you arrive in a different section of the level and start to head toward the source of their displeasure, often catching you off-guard. There's plenty of pressure put on the player but enough health and more than enough ammo going around to finish out your job. Some nice firefights here, especially around the yellow / red key compound.

The GrottoMAP11
by Chrisbo "Christoph" Sonnekins and Josh "Joshy" Sealy
It's a masterpiece. It's also enormous and at times exhausting. "The Grotto" is a sprawling techbase built into an immense cavern complete with underground sea. Some of the visuals are quite striking, particularly the southwestern area and its enormous natural columns. You'll have to oust the incumbent monsters if you want to enjoy the view, though. Cristoph and Joshy have a lot of enemies and ambushes for you to contend with. At one point, you'll have two Cyberdemons stomping around the topography, making things dangerous until you get enough cell ammo to combat them comfortably. The only trap I found as being dirty was the hitscanner crossfire you're lowered into once you grab the yellow skull key. Good luck surviving it at nil health. Otherwise, it's hard to single out any particular fight as a standout. Just an excellent map to load up and explore.

MAP12Nectar of the Gods
by Eric "The Green Herring" Baker
A primarily naturalistic series of cascades and water pools with the occasional instance of demonic masonry. Baker's characteristic gameplay shines through with nasty traps that leave you reeling from quick encounters, like that bum's rush at the top of the outdoor hill, or that whole series of firefights concentrating around the northern area, with gratuitous fireball dodging on several occasions. It's also pretty short on ammo, unless you manage to find one of the four secrets, none of which I figured out before the end. It probably wouldn't be so sketchy but for a number of pain elementals that quickly inflated my initial monster count. Still, an action-packed ride you should enjoy.

Viral ImplantMAP13
by James "Phobus" Cresswell
Simple layout but gorgeous use of new textures for this dark level. Phobus doesn't pull any punches – only the rocket launcher and plasma rifle appear. It's got a low monster count but they're all heavy hitters, including those roaming spectres, which you will probably cook yourself off of while firing rockets. Most of the fights use turret-style entrenchments on the high ground while you deal with the riff-raff on the floor, but it's a versatile encounter scheme with some nice breaks, like the tunnels connecting the northern segments (revenants and arch-viles abound). The only thing I can say is make sure you find the level's only secret – it'll save you two tons of time.

by Eli "ProcessingControl" Cohen
Here's another large, secret-laden (to the tune of eighteen) techbase. I doubt any of them are really needed but they're pretty cool to stumble on / look for (especially the secret lift in the northwestern compound!). ProcessingControl makes this level pretty awkward at first; all of the opening action is with the rocket launcher alone, so be wary of baking yourself with the blast radius. He's pretty good about throwing monsters into the halls you have to trek back and forth through, so expect ambushes from mancubuses and revenants. That big staircase to the northeast seems to be the focus of this kind of action, with monsters routinely craning their heads over the balcony to catch rockets with their teeth. Very fun!

by "Lord Z"
Here's another dense techbase map with tons of close-quarters combat. It's not exactly what I'd call large, but the secret chain leading to the exit uses seven out of eight hidden areas, if I'm thinking right. Figuring out what the switch behind the red key door did was my main issue. Some cool bits like the monster-blocking forcefields at the southern area, which is a slightly more open shootout compared to the rest of the map. The sewer catwalk area has some nice design but all those walkways can slow things down if you get knocked off for some reason and have to warp back to the start. Very cool-looking air ducts section.

MAP31Mortar Combat
by Stuart "Stewboy" Rynn aka "Forty-Two")
42's entry is an unusually reserved (texturally speaking) bricks'n'blood level with an intricate layout that slowly opens up as you run around flipping switches and the like. You're generally exposed to crossfire from lots of angles and need either precise control / dodging skills or tactical movement coupled with attention to detail as you methodically remove your obstacles. Monsters present in a big way, especially the nasty Cyberdemon reveal which comes with a large wave of revenants from every direction. The mystery of the skull closets is intriguing, but will probably piss off UV-MAX runners. Regardless, it's a lot of fun to play with plenty of tiers to move around in.

by Jeffrey "edoanimus" Nordin
And now for something completely different. Nordin makes a level that warps itself around the player as they progress through the level. But it's not accomplished in a linear fashion; you can rush around in several directions, watching the Hellish fusion of brick and metal unravel before your very eyes, unleashing all manner of nasty beasties upon you. Entire rooms transform, walls crumble, and "Mutare" becomes a very open level. There's a bit of slaughter near the end, but all the infighting will take care of the ugliest bit while you do your best to remove the arch-viles he reseeds throughout the now open-air rooms. It's so hard to pick a favorite moment in a map s complex as this one, but the sequence leading up to the BFG / slaughter is a definite standout.

MAP16The Forgotten Base
by "Keeper of Jericho"
As indicated by the MIDI, this is a "Courtyard" inspired level, most of which takes place in – you guessed it – a large courtyard, in something of the Plutonia Revisited style. While there are a number of annoyances that may cause players to rage quit (like the arch-viles on the outer wall or the bamboo poles, negatable by a secret EDIT 10/05/12 that requires an AV jump timed switch), the largest bottleneck will be the huge wave of arch-viles that teleports into the level's center, along with a number of other enemies. Thankfully, in my playthrough I had saved the invul artifact (a secret, but a blindingly obvious secret) and after a few tries used it to successfully grab the red key and use the rocket launcher to take out the army. Apart from that, the level's more boring than anything else.

by Andy Leaver
Interesting aesthetic; except for the cavernous opening, the level is divided into a red side and a blue side, with several chambers split down the middle. The outdoor area looks great but is choked with zombies and imps which you can pretty much skip in favor of grabbing a weapon that isn't the pistol. The combat of the interior involves using mostly the SSG or rocket launcher while deftly maneuvering around obstacles and tougher enemies. Cacodemons, hell knights and barons are the order of the day, with several arch-viles making difficult appearances, particularly when ambushes involving the blue side are involved. Pretty fun level.

by James "Jimmy" Paddock and Brett "Mechadon" Harrel
Jimmy and Mechadon unite their powers for this bear of a level, invoking "Suburbs" with more than just the MIDI remix. While the southwestern section may be more or less eye candy, the rest of the map is dense and filled with a three-dimensional labyrinth of gorgeous buildings bisected by the city street, where you'll find some larger enemies roaming. Keep an eye out for long-distance rockets as you run about. The layout is pretty genius, with secrets allowing for speedy egress to the next objective, say after you grab a key. None of the single fights really stick out to me except for the blind elevator behind the yellow key door, which puts you toe to toe with some nasties. Cool stuff.

by Josh "Joshy" Sealy
A short but very violent affair from Mr. Sealy. You dash out of the frying pan and into the fire, grabbing the SSG and carefully dodging into the molten cavern under the prison and into the columned room where you'll shiver in anticipation of a melee between arch-viles, Cyberdemons, revenants, and other unsavory things. (I just ran into the tunnel and let the Cyberdemons cook the monsters, including the arch-viles). The other nasty bit is a close Cybie tango where you have to hit a switch and then dart back to the bars it opened, where the fighting isn't nearly as intense. Looks very nice and that walk out to the exit area is the right kind of surreal. Have fun with that northwestern area!

MAP20Interstellar Sickness
by Chris "Lupinx-Kassman" Kassap
Well, this certainly is A Thing. I'm reminded of Deus Vult II's "Stargate", except much more conventional in some ways and less in others. The visuals are powerful, with the level taking place on some kind of space station with lots of psychedelic trimmings, including a fight with a Cyberdemon on a separate battle platform and a short jaunt to a dome housing a garden that quickly turns ugly. It's also got plenty of great fights, the definite standout being the dual Spiderdemon battle right outside the exit hallway, which has a good number of unwelcome insurgents. You may find yourself dodging the occasional imp fireball from far off but most of the enemies are well within your range. Very cool – don't miss this!

Shaman's DeviceMAP21
by Chris "Lupinx-Kassman" Kassap
Lupinx raises the bar ever higher with a phenomenal cyberspace level to end all digital domains. Every animated texture has a place and the whole implied story with the SHAMAN silhouettes and specialized text screens is excellent. There are teleport chutes and transparent platforms and, well, I love it. That final visual with the fluctuating column in the void is to die for. You blast your way down a more or less straightforward pathway that undergoes a massive fork. Combat is a bit nastier than "Interstellar Sickness" with safe movement area feeling somewhat limited while you're getting hailed by projectiles, especially in that northernmost room. The big stumbling block for me was the pair of Cyberdemons in the red key zone, which were quite a bear to take out with the plasma rifle. Regardless, a total knockout.

MAP22Hell's Limits
by "C30N9"
C30N9 brings us down to earth with this smaller, fun level in the Plutonia style. What I like most of all is that in spite of all the backtracking you do, he's careful to keep the action coming and betraying expectations. For instance, you might see a single monster closet has opened ahead of you and scoff at the demon, sure that there's another on the opposite side. Nope. It's a revenant. The encounter design helps to keep you on your toes and all six keys are used, keeping carrots dangling in front of the player almost constantly. As for standout, I'd have to go with that yellow key switch ambush.

Melting Universe IIMAP23
by Walter "Daimon" Confalonieri
Daimon provides us with another lower-key level where a system of caverns and valleys seems to be slowly going to Hell. Progression is linear for the most part with a minor fork after getting beyond the blue key door. There are a few nasty bits, like that outer yard which is a moderate bullet Hell coming from the canyon walls, and there's one particular revenant ambush in the north branch of the blue key area, but between the plasma rifle and boxes of rockets, you should be fine with all the combat. I prefer the look of the man-made areas that break up the more natural / rugged sections, but it's all nice, classic gameplay.

by Matt "Shadow Dweller" Devlin
This is a dilapidated techbase with a pretty normal-looking front that quickly shows its more sinister side as you fight your way through the infested ruins. It's a really dark level; you'll appreciate the light amp goggles initially, and then appreciate them more when they run out and you have to backtrack through the darkness (which is admittedly devoid of monsters). Favorite moment is that cool scripted section where the force field dying is immediately followed by the room being torn in half. I also liked the blasted-out apocalyptic look of the second floor. And nice use of "Death's Bells".

Nightmare ComplexMAP25
by Kim "Torn" Bach
A surprisingly simple Hell castle style level. The encounters feel spaced-out at times, but Torn doesn't skimp on the festivities, particularly the northeastern outdoor area which features an ambush with a Spiderdemon, Cyberdemon, and a pack of arch-viles, along with some other chumps that don't really matter in the grand scheme of things. There's also that two-Cybie salute at the level's end which isn't nearly as tricky as long as you travel light. Between the sparse yet hard-hitting battles and the ambient music track, it manages to establish a creepy atmosphere with some tension as you try to anticipate the next sucker punch.

MAP26Reaper's Digest
by Kristian Aro
Krtistian Aro unleashes a moody masterpiece in an aesthetic all his own. It's some kind of Hell fortress built into the side of a fiery caldera, the centerpiece of one of the more dangerous encounters, a mixture of lost souls and cacodemons. The rest really shows off the more infernal textures in a way I haven't seen apart from Phobus's MAP13 and it's a nice change of scenery. The dark tunnels and claustrophobic gameplay may turn some players off (especially if you don't like sneaky spectres) but I found myself pretty enthralled. I got stuck in a few spots due to missing some important detail (the switch in the lava channel or the spiral staircase near the yellow key) but it's great stuff with a nice remix track.

Vulcana IIMAP27
by Paul "pcorf" Corfiatis
Here's another gorgeous level, this one from Mr. Corfiatis. Though it begins with quite a shock, it's not quite as madcap as the level makes itself out to be, with most of the grief coming from squads of lost souls and cacodemons. That's actually one of the most annoying fights in the level, mixed with one of the most gorgeous visuals, an immense underground cavern where aerial foes harass you as you drop from pillar to pillar. Taking them on is an exercise in frustration, unfortunately. The rest of the stuff, like demon / spectre ambushes and the arch-viles you know are coming, are much easier to swallow. There's also a slaughter room where you can get a Cyberdemon to do most of your work for you. Still, a pretty cool journey.

MAP28Crucifix Held Close
by William "[WH]-Wilou84" Huber
The Castlevania soundtrack is an automatic plus, and Huber drives the point home with a nice, large castle erected out of a lava-filled chasm that has lots of adventure and lots of monsters to kill. All the pseudo pressure-plates and changing landscape mixed with some freeform exploration and carefully enshrined weapons gives the level a nice feel that, in some ways, brings Metroidvania to mind. While there's a lot of incidental combat, Wilou has a few nasty ambushes prepared for you; one in the northern section with a handful of pain elementals is bound to drive up your ammo consumption. The most dangerous starts out pretty tame, teleporting bunches of weaker monsters into a closed space with you, but things quickly get congested when the higher-HP bunches arrive. Very fun.

Spiritual HolocaustMAP29
by Christian "Darkreaver" Lian
Characteristic of Lian, this level won't be popular with people who hate arch-viles, revenants, etc.. Especially in slaughter scenarios. It's a lot easier than his "Vile Piece" from PC_CP, though. Darkreaver has a gorgeous spirit world that's full of demons to slaughter, whether it's splattering imps or mowing down hordes of cacos with the BFG (like the red key room). The opening is pretty brutal and the level as a whole is trappy, but not with stuff like crushers, more like monster-sized surprises as in that very cool megasphere closet just off the rocket launcher room. The final battle is mild compared to that red key room brawl, my favorite fight, but it's got a good sense of theatrics. Great map, if you're looking to get bloodied up a bit.

by Josh "Joshy" Sealy
One of the most brutal maps in the set, another Hellish fortress set in a lake of fire. You can't wait most of these fights out or you'll run out of rad suits. Thankfully, all the bloody action is confined to a few choice encounters, specifically the northern section's insane crossfire (backed by that arch-vile-led demon horde) and the revenant slaughter right before the boss brain. Make sure you grab some of the hidden goodies – you'll need it to soak a few rocket hits. The actual finale is comparatively understated, though it might take a bit longer if you off the twin guardians.

Midnight Tek FrenzyMAP35
by Brian "Snakes" Knox
In a show of sympathy, Baker included this sexy techbase level as an Easter egg (uh, SPOILER ALERT), which Snakes released separately after he found himself unable to meet the original cutoff date. It's pretty much the same thing with some minor bugs removed, so you can read the in-depth review here. Suffice to say, it kicks ass, and you should play it if you haven't already.


This post is part of a series on
Doomworld's 2012 Cacowards

The Top TenBest MultiplayerRunners Up
Doom the Way id DidWhoDunIt?Beyond Reality
Strife: Absolute OrderBest Gameplay ModMasters of Chaos
PutrefierRussian OverkillFrozen Time
5till L1 ComplexMordeth AwardPlanisphere 2
Community Chest 4Community Chest 4Coffee Break Ep. 1
The EyeCall of Dooty II
Combat Shock 2Mapper of the Year
Winter's FuryKhorus
Base Ganymede: Complete


  1. Ehm, I just wanted to say, the pole-secret in map 16 doesn't require an Arch-Vile jump. You just hit a switch hidden behind some crates south-west of the pole switch (south of the exit-complex), which lowers one of the crates near the pole switch. Simply run over before it raises, and climb up the crates to hit the switch. It's quite easy and straightforward.

    1. Whoops! I must admit that I wasn't too concerned with finding the actual solution as the pole-hopping didn't bother me as much as others, so I made an asinine assumption.

  2. Great review as always!
    Keep up the good work.

  3. Nice in-depth review, and thanks for the kind words on my two maps! I think you accidentally put the wrong screenshot up for map 16 though ;). It seems to be from TNT.

    1. You're welcome, and thanks! When I started porting reviews over to my current table-based format, I used other articles that were ported first as the template for later ones, copy and pasting information, which is why screenshot anomalies are cropping up. CC4's template was Evilution.

  4. If you happen to know, was Map22 a Plutonia Revisited reject?

    1. From what I can tell, no. I think C30N9 just had Plutonia on the brain at the time, as did several other authors in this mapset. The one level he outright mentioned as being a PRCP reject wasn't "Hell's Limits", though I do know that "Hell's Limits" wasn't MAP22's original title.

  5. What was the map he explicitly mentions as a PRCP reject (as C30N9 has no other level in CChest4 besides Hell's Limits)?

    If it's Pitfalls you're referring to (you have it reviewed on this blog), I do know for sure Map22 is not the same level as Pitfalls, not even close.

    1. C30N9 passed the cancelled "Schlachthause" (an Abattoire homage) to Marnetmar, who never finished it. "Hell's Limits" aka "Deeply Into the Illusion" was developed in the "New Community Chest 4 Sign-Up Thread". It never had an official thread, as far as I can tell, but it was conceived of and executed within the sign-up thread.

  6. "There's also that two-Cybie salute at the level's end which isn't nearly as tricky as long as travel light."
    ? I think there's a word missing at the end of this sentence...