Wednesday, 16 August 2017

My Usual Spiel - Brutal Doom and the Hell on Earth Starter Pack, what Doom and Doom 2 should have been

You may have noticed I’m playing Doom a lot lately, and there has been a lot of talk about Doom as well, this is generally because of the latest DOOM game, yes DOOM (2016) another “reboot sequel” as I like to call it. You may have noticed I complain about this a bit specifically in my reviews of Alien vs Predator (2010) and Need for Speed (2015). But anyway I decided that before I played the latest Doom I had to go through and play all of the Doom series again which I sort of already have played most of it using the Skulltag Mod as per my post late last year. I had already played through Doom II: Hell on Earth many times, I played through The Ultimate Doom once with the Skulltag mod and have played through Final Doom’s TNT: Evilution and The Plutonia Experiment once each. While I was doing research for the post on the Skulltag mod and the Plutonia experiment I came across a video featuring the Brutal Doom mod and then after watching the video for the Hell on Earth Starter Pack I hit peak rage and knew I had to try it and wow, was it good, oh so good.

One of my favorite screenshots from the WAD, the lighting the graphics, the sky, the trees and the buildings all look amazing.
To explain a bit more the Brutal Doom mod was designed by the somewhat infamous Marcos Abenante aka Sergeant Mark IV and was originally designed to simply add more gore the mod, but now has had much more things added and changed such as the sounds, graphics, and combat including smoother animations and increased difficulty. I had actually heard of the mod a while ago but just dismissed it as a “gore mod” as it might just have been back then but now it’s so much more, it makes Doom look better than ever and brings it into the 21st Century and I reckon it does this better then all of the other mods I’ve seen. Brutal Doom features many new graphical effects, such as new death animations, fake flares and 3D blood effects for OpenGL, and also changes the gameplay by revamping the weapons and monster AI. It has been in active development since 2010 with the Sergeant going on to create Brutal Doom 64 a “brutalized” version of the N64 game and the mod itself has its own addons including the popular Project Brutality which further modernizes and enhances on the Brutal Doom Mod.

Lots of blood and guts, and this was only on the "realistic" setting
Although I did want to try out Brutal Doom on the original series I thought I may as well try it with the MegaWAD created specifically to be played with it, the Hell on Earth Starter Pack. To explain a bit of Doom Lingo a WAD file is a data file for Doom, MegaWAD are the most commonly referred to as they are a WAD that contains 15 or more levels, The entire Doom and Doom 2 were each a single MegaWAD so when the community refers to WADS it is usually a custom set of levels created by an individual. As I mentioned before the “Hell of Earth Starter Pack” is the MegaWAD created specifically to be used with Brutal Doom i.e. in order to progress through the levels you need to crouch, duck and jump all of which you could not do in the original Doom. One new feature in Brutal Doom is the ability to kick with the Q key, while this is a relatively useful way to knock enemies backwards it doesn’t know them back far but the ability is also used to activate some switches, in fact to get out of the room right at the start of the game you need to give the wall switch a whack with your boot , took me a while to work that out hah. 

The first level of the WAD, a good overview of whats the mod looks like the new features.

One thing I did find weird was that why Sergeant Mark IV had chosen to call it the “Starter Pack” I’m guessing that was because this is what you use when playing Brutal Doom or the first thing you should try I guess but a more appropriate name for it would have been “Brutalized Doom 1 and 2” as it actually re-creates the story of Doom 1 and 2 from the Invasion of Phobos and Deimos, to the return to Earth then the entry into Hell then back to earth again.. all contained in a huge 32 level MegaWAD. While playing through the game the graphics were great of course as per the mod, but what impressed me was the amount of detail put into the levels, the first few levels were in a space station for example but even so the computers looks like actually computers, the bathrooms looked like bathrooms the toilets looked like toilets you can even see yourself in mirrors. It wasn’t until I got to the part when you returned to earth that it really blew me away.

Oh look it's a kitchen
You see in the original Doom II you were technically supposed to be on earth as there were levels such as Downtown, Suburbs and Industrial zone that were supposed to resemble cities and towns but are basically just the normal Doom sci-fi, space base and generic themed textures arranged in shape of buildings/houses etc with nothing resembling a normal house inside. But in this mod when you first get to earth, there is grass, there’s trees, there’s rocks, there’s a normal looking cityscape and modern steel power lines. And when you get to the neighborhood it looks like an actual neighborhood with roads and footpaths and grass and trees and lampposts and the houses have full bedrooms with desks and computers and  even games consoles of all things and the city part is even more insane with full on office and tenement building and shopping malls and restaurants with fully stocked kitchens. It’s what Doom 2’s levels should have been like all along, and wow don’t get me started on the hellish levels which are now scarier than ever, the horrific "Sacrificial Grounds" level will remain etched in my mind forever not to mention the game's final boss.

The 'Twisted Neighbourhood" level, fighting through with other marines

I’ve mentioned before on my previous post with the Skulltag mod that Doom looks much better with the advanced graphics but Brutal Doom is something else, it looks amazing when you look at the before and after shots of the original Doom and Doom 2 then with the mod installed. Everything is as high res as the engine can go and the mod supports a full range of resolutions and graphical tweaking. You also have the option of playing with the monsters set to their original settings though I admit when you have full mouse and keyboard control it’s a bit too easy. As I mentioned before there is a wealth of new features added in the mod all of which you can read about on the Doom Wiki some of my favourites include the fatalities which you can perform on monsters and monsters can perform on you and I also like the fact that Invisibility spheres have been replaced with captured marines that can assist you and are quite capable themselves. 

One of the most epic moments from the game, the 'Push into Hell' level where you and the army invade Hell itself.

The weapon revamps are another good thing while not a weapon I love the new melee punching and kicking abilities, while the kick is not that effective the punching really feels good especially once you have the Berserk powerup where you can alternate between ‘Rip and Tear’ mode where you can perform fatalities on fallen enemies or ‘Smash’ mode where you simply smash them to pieces, I sometimes went through whole levels just smashing with my fists hah. The pistol has been replaced by an awesome very accurate assault rifle which comfortably matches the player sprite and is useful even late in the game and you can now pick up grenades from zombie soldiers which are very powerful doing even more splash damage then the rocket launcher. All of the other weapons have been revamped to look and sound hardcore, I almost winced every time I used the shotguns they were so loud, you can also now dual wield the assault rifle and plasma gun for even more damage. You can now also use the weapons from fallen enemies such as the Revenants missile backpack and the Mancubus flame cannon which was pretty cool. The new and revamped old guns were great, very powerful and sounded awesome along with the new death animations.

Smash Rip and Tear! you'll notice I do a fatality on the Cacodemon.

Heating it up with the Mancubus' flame cannon
 As mentioned before the monsters and demons move much faster and have new attacks making them more difficult to kill, I admit I was having trouble staying alive through the first part of the game, and when you get to the end of the first chapter and have your first boss fight I was getting slaughtered and eventually had to rely on god mode, which wasn’t too bad actually, playing the original series with god mode got boring but got better without it, but playing brutal doom without being invincible is goddamn tough so I wasn’t too ashamed to do it, plus I was going to see the entirety of this WAD if it was the last thing I did. I was amazed at the amount of effort that had gone into it, there were things that you would never dream of seeing in the original Doom, I’m no stranger to mods for games putting in new features but this was something else, from all new sprites of tanks and centaur-like demons to skyscrapers and hellish castles the starter pack had it all. In this episode it was probably the first time ever in Doom that you felt like you were not alone, there were lots of other marines, tanks, aircraft and even civilians at one point. The WAD I noticed had quite a bit of content and assets borrowed from other games including the civilian and tank sprites and some custom sounds one of which I recognized from Half-Life. It didn’t take me long to recognize the Quake 2 soundtrack as well which made some rather bangin music.

This is the 'Push into Hell' level again but I couldn't help including it as it looks awesome
I look forward to taking this mod further in conjunction with other mods including Project Brutality which adds even more new weapons and also maybe the HXRTC HUD as well as per Martinoz’ videos as there seems to be no end to mods for the original Doom, maybe it’s just because it’s so popular and easy to mod. I’ll never forget how I felt when playing the mod for the first time and seeing the changes and seeing the reimagined story of Doom and Doom 2 it just blew me away so hats off to Sergeant Mark IV for a great mod and campaign. I have decided to try and complete the Doom series finally having recently played Brutal Doom 64 which was also very good. Doom 64 is now actually considered to be the proper sequel to Final Doom though I will still play Doom 3 BFG edition for completeness before I play Doom 2016. In any case, if you have never played the original Doom and want something as modern as possible, this is the way to go.


Get ready for one epic trailer.

This is Doom, but not as you knew it

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