Review: Brütal Doom (mod for Doom)

Developer: Marcos Abenante aka SgtMarkIV aka Sergeant_Mark_IV
Genre: FPS
Original release: 2012
Versions reviewed: 1.18a (Feb., 2013)

I honestly haven’t played that many mods in my time, and when I do they usually are something special, like a total conversion, like The Dark Mod, or AMC TC. Then I came upon something called Brütal Doom (with an umlaut over the “u” like Mötorhead) not too long ago. It has received high praise and has won a couple of prestigious awards, like 2011’s Golden Cacoward for best gameplay in a mod, and Mod DB’s 2012 Editor’s Choice of Creativity Award. It also ranks high up on Mod DB’s most popular mods – in the top ten at the time of writing this.

So naturally, seeing as I own the original Doom games, and still play them from time to time, and because I felt like a bit of old school run and gun (and fun) action, I gave it a try.

Brutal Doom relies upon using a source port for Doom, and in the past a variety of them were supported, but now there are just two that are compatible with the mod: Zandronum and GZDoom. Zandronum is recommended by most, with people citing that it works seamlessly with the mod, and has support for multiplayer. GZDoom is arguably better for more experienced modders and doomers alike. I opted for GZDoom, seeing as it’s the source port I am most familiar with, second only to JDoom, better known as Doomsday. GZDoom isn’t that easy to get to grips with initially, especially when it comes to working with mods, but after learning a trick, I created a .bat file and typed in a few commands that included the files I wanted to run and in which order, and away it went. This is a pretty standard procedure for loading and playing mods.

At the main menu, you have a lot of options that come standard with GZDoom, that you can fiddle with, all which modify the base game. And there’s some nice custom artwork in the background that you can stare at too. If you have the Doom Metal soundtrack loaded with the mod you will have the new main theme that should be instantly recognisable if you have ever played Classic Doom, a mod for Doom 3, which recreated the shareware episode of Doom in the Doom 3 engine. Most if not all of the tracks from said mod, composed by Sonic Clang, are present here as well as many other remixes from various artists, including Neurological of Hell on Earth Sound fame.

The great thing about Brutal Doom is that you don’t even have to play the original maps (although you do need the IWADs). There are plenty of custom map packs out there for those who have played through the originals many times over the years. I played through the original maps of Doom, Doom II, and Final Doom using version 1.18a of Brutal Doom. When v 1.19 comes along (it was delayed last month), I plan on using it with some custom map packs.

So, I selected my difficulty and headed in to the familiar E1M1 level, also known as “Hangar”.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Rockets now have visible smoke trails, perfectly demonstrated... *BLAM!*An artist's illustration of Deimos, floating above hell.The new plasma rifle, setting fire to a tree.The BFG 9000... uprooting a tree.
Rockets now have visible smoke trails, perfectly demonstrated... *BLAM!*
Rockets now have visible smoke trails, perfectly demonstrated... *BLAM!*
An artist's illustration of Deimos, floating above hell.
An artist's illustration of Deimos, floating above hell.
The new plasma rifle, setting fire to a tree.
The new plasma rifle, setting fire to a tree.
The BFG 9000... uprooting a tree.
The BFG 9000... uprooting a tree.

First off I noticed that I had a new weapon in my hands – it was an assault rifle instead of the usual weak pistol. This makes sense seeing as no enemy in the game carries a pistol – but they do carry assault rifles, and the sprite of Doomguy shows him carrying one too.

I charged in to the room to the left taking down a couple of zombieguys as I went, and quickly learned that I can indeed aim down the sights using alternate fire mode – something that should excite all COD fans worldwide (like they would ever play this). After noticing the new sound effect when picking up armour (which glows in the dark too!), which was taken from Quake, I proceeded along the usual path and bumped in to some more zombieguys before getting the shotgun. I burst through the door and took down another poor soul, blowing his arm off, and watching him kneel to the ground and shriek in agony, his head rocking back and forth, before I finished him off by kicking him in the face. I had to clear the blood from my visor before aiming down the sights once more in order to snipe the imp up on the ledge above me. I quickly reloaded.

Then it was on to a narrow corridor where some imps were waiting on either side to slay me with their fireballs, and I took aim at the explosive barrels, watching them explode and gib the hell spawn, before finishing off any survivors with the shotgun, one of my shots even shattering a lamp in the process, plunging the area in to darkness.

I eventually reached the exit and proceeded to the next level.

In the original Doom, using the fist to punch the air would alert all demons in the vicinity to the player’s presence. Brutal Doom fixes that so fists are silent and can be used for stealth kills. You can also use both fists for punching, making them deadlier than before.

Now for those of you are under 18, and haven’t played Doom before, reading through my exploits of the first level above is not going to impress you. But if you have played through Doom before (and haven’t played Brutal Doom), You’re going to think: “What? I don’t remember that being in the game!”

From the get-go, the mod introduces new things. Some are subtle changes, but many aren’t. Some say that Brutal Doom is merely a gore mod, but it goes quite a bit further than that. In my mind, Brutal Doom is quite like Duke Plus for Duke Nukem 3D. And in fact, looking at the licences, the mod even has some Build engine (DN3D) code in it. It has the extra gore, but also adds a lot more graphical touches and gameplay tweaks. There are probably too many to list (here’s a full or at least bigger list), but the main ones would include craftier AI, new enemies (plus some redesigned ones) new death animations (including executions or fatalities), new weapons (with alternate fire modes and reloading animations), voice acted player taunts, a remastered soundtrack, new sound effects, shadows, explosion particles, destructible environments – stuff that really attempts to bring Doom kicking and screaming in to the 21st century. Because for many, these old school shooters were and still are the best of their genre – the genre they helped create. And while it does enhance the game, it doesn’t go overboard and change it completely. This is Doom, but think of it as Doom on steroids. To quote the creator of this mod: “Everything in Brutal Doom is extremely intense. Everything sounds louder, looks bigger, moves faster, and hits harder.”

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The player can execute fatalities on enemies while in berserk mode and using his fists.Cracks and holes will appear in the visor on occasion when shot.The new Nazi SS soldiers in the one secret level of Doom II.Blood sometimes gets on your nice clean visor. It ain't your blood though, so that's okay.The new assault rifle.
The player can execute fatalities on enemies while in berserk mode and using his fists.
The player can execute fatalities on enemies while in berserk mode and using his fists.
Cracks and holes will appear in the visor on occasion when shot.
Cracks and holes will appear in the visor on occasion when shot.
The new Nazi SS soldiers in the one secret level of Doom II.
The new Nazi SS soldiers in the one secret level of Doom II.
Blood sometimes gets on your nice clean visor. It ain't your blood though, so that's okay.
Blood sometimes gets on your nice clean visor. It ain't your blood though, so that's okay.
The new assault rifle.
The new assault rifle.

Pros

+ New weapons
+ Astounding use of technology

Cons

- Copied content, like lines out of films

A lot of the inspiration for Brutal Doom came from the infamous Doom comic, released back in 1996. While it was considered by many Doom fans to be cheesy (but probably not as bad as the Doom novels with the protagonist known as Flynn Taggart – whoever the hell he is), it lent a sort of intensity, insanity, and above all brutality that wasn’t quite captured in the original game or any other medium Doom might have appeared in for that matter. In Brutal Doom there are several references to the comic, such as the text “Rip or Tear” that appears on the screen when you pick up a berserk pack, or the lines that were recorded for the player taunts.

Some people who took a jab at reviewing the mod claim that this is how id Software would have wanted Doom to be like originally, but it would have been virtually impossible during development because of technical limitations at the time and because no rig would have been able to run the final release version back in 1993.

To add to this, you also get a number of mutators in the spirit of Unreal Tournament which add to or take away various things from the game. There’s a mod (albeit a poorly rated one) which puts a remodelled pistol in the game to replace the assault rifle. There’s another which has prettier versions of the weapons from a mod called Beautiful Doom. There’s a redesigned HUD, and for those whose system isn’t really that beefy, there’s a janitor mod which will get rid of most blood, gore, and other details that are going to weigh heavily on your system resources. Along with an improved Doom comes bigger system requirements.

So if you’re getting tired of the onslaught of subpar new titles that are emptying your bank account, and want to finally try out Doom to see what all the fuss was about, or you wish to have another go with it for nostalgia’s sake, then there is arguably no better mod out there, and no better time than now.

What do you think of Brutal Doom?

  • It rocks!
  • It's okay. I prefer vanilla Doom.
  • It sucks. I like Call of Duty.
See results without voting
Cast your vote for Brutal Doom

© 2013 ANDR01D

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