I think just about everyone, gamer or not, has heard of Doom. When it was released in late 1994 for DOS PCs, it fell under heavy fire for its graphic displays of violence and gore, not to mention the satanic and occult imagery. Still, as these games do, it persevered and achieved a sort of legendary status with gamers. It says something about a game’s staying power when people are still playing it and modifying it nearly 20 years later.
Enter Brutal Doom, a hardcore re-imagining of the Doom franchise. The enemies are smarter and stronger, the weapons are more powerful and more modern and everything is louder, sharper and more intense than ever before. Along with the gameplay tweaks, several visual enhancements have been added. Taking advantage of modern source ports with OpenGL support, particle effects, lighting and realistic blood enhance the atmosphere of the Doom world.
Technically, Brutal Doom is classified as a gore mod. With the increased gibs, dismemberment and fatalities in place, I can certainly see why. Indeed, it’s possible to paint the walls with the blood of the enemy. However, the mod offers much more than simply that horror-movie splash.
Using OpenGL, Brutal Doom takes its visual overhaul one step further. Bullet impacts on walls throw out sparks and smoke realistically. Armor and health pickups glow as they should. Shell casings bounce around and litter the areas, showing signs of a firefight. Light sources can be shot and broken, leaving the surrounding area in darkness. Overall, these features add greatly to the atmosphere of the game and give a more interactive feel to environments that were once something the average player wouldn’t even notice.
Getting away from the visual aspects, this mod also makes the classic Doom arsenal more deadly and more functional than I could ever have hoped. It doesn’t take long to notice. No longer is the player forced to start with a pistol that gets forgotten as soon as a shotgun is found. Instead, players receive an assault rifle with a zoom feature that allows them to snipe their enemies and score headshots. The iconic Doom shotgun has also been upgraded. It now fires a full 10 pellets in a narrower spread. In addition, the secondary function allows the player to aim down the sights, further refining the spread for mid-range encounters. Most of the weapons need to be reloaded, as well, adding an element of strategy and realism to the experience
Now, let’s talk about one of my favorite features, the enemies themselves. The cannon fodder we’ve all come to expect is gone. These bastards are tough. The possessed humans (Zombieman, Shotgun Guy and Heavy Weapons Dude, to those of you familiar with Doom) will no longer rush in to be slaughtered. They know the range of their weapons and they’ll use them to deadly effect with increased accuracy. Non-human opponents have received similar upgrades – more damaging mêlée and deadlier projectiles. Thankfully, with the third-person player fatalities, even when the game is over, there’s still a show to watch.
Overall, Brutal Doom attempts to modernize a truly iconic game while keeping that old Doom feeling. It achieves this through a mixture of visual enhancements and insane difficulty tweaks that give an old gamer like me a case of the warm-and-fuzzies. Best of all, this mod works with most others that use classic Doom monsters and weapons, being compatible with Doom, Doom 2 and Final Doom. Enjoy!
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