[Review] Brutal Doom v20

Developer: Sergeant Mark IV
Publisher: Sergeant Mark IV / Mod DB
Release: (Original) 2012, December 31 2015
Platform: (PC Game Mod) Requires Doom and/or Doom II, Zandronum 2.0 or GZDoom 1.8
Genre: Game Modification, Action Horror
OFLC Rating: N/A

Created by id Software with John Romero and John Carmack at the helm back in 1993, Doom is the action horror classic that redefined first-person shooters along being one of the games to introduce the gaming world to concept of network multiplayer.  Both Doom and it’s sequel Hell on Earth (released the following year) become known as “Classic Doom” with the release of Doom 3 that debuted the idTech 5 Engine.
Recently the latest iteration has received a substantial degree of harsh criticism, which is mostly due to the game’s design direction compromising what made Doom the game we know today for the sake of making a game palatable to the mainstream gaming audience. Doom is about experiencing terror that quickly turns into an intoxicating rage – Classic example is being ambushed in dark corridor by a demon only to blow it’s brains out using a shotgun with catlike reflexes. It’s those moments of adrenaline fueled action that make Doom the game that is, even in a Deathmatch with seven other players among hordes of demons and the possessed undead (former humans). Doom (2016) when it was being promoted at E3 and footage covering the open beta offers little to no sense of terror that I know it’s predecessors to have in abundance.
Here we have Brutal Doom, a mod that uses both Doom and Doom 2 along with idTech 1 Engine to evolve the experience with compromising it! With the use of modern source ports, you can tailor idTech 1 games to play like today’s action games while offering greater support for game modification and more advanced user created content. To look at Brutal Doom, you would be forgiven for labeling it another mod that simple adds a sensationalized gratuitously violent aesthetic to the game. On the surface this mod from a purely visual standpoint may very well look to be a patch for an “R18+ Version of Doom”, but Brutal Doom adds modern physics and gameplay elements to the game. Because Doom is very “Run ‘N’ Gun” (in both single and multiplayer), you cannot afford to stay one place for too long without being “Fragged” or winding up some demon’s chew toy. Brutal Doom takes modern mechanics like the ability to actively aim down the sights of your weapon and enhances the overall gameplay to emphasize a greater need for “Run ‘N’ Gun” tactics.
So how does it work?
Well, you can literally make a bloody mess of any foe (human, demon or otherwise)… BUT! Every foe you encounter has the ability to do same to you, making for some highly tactical skirmishes. Furthermore, where each of your weapons was a stepping stone for something more powerful Brutal Doom takes the arsenal and gives each weapon it’s own purpose for a given situation – Whilst you can play Classic mode that plays using the weapons and combat mechanics of the original game with realist physics that make this mod both a spectacle and a challenge, playing Modern mode will open up the weapons and gunplay mechanics made to complete the experience. Most of the weapons have an alternate function. There a total of eleven weapons (not including your bare hands, making a dozen means to brutalize your foes):

First, there is the Rifle (that replaces the Pistol). Your typical automatic rifle with a decent rate of fire and allows you to aim using the alternate function. However, this is one of two weapons that can be dual-wielded (once another dropped weapon of same type is picked up) allows your primary and alternate weapon functions to fire each weapon independently. With a single rifle – From the hip you can drop foes at medium range, whereas aiming down the sights will allow you pick off targets from long range using short bursts. Dual-Wielding rifles is great for those aggressive “Hit ‘N’ Run” attacks using short bursts in quick succession.
Then, you have the Shotgun! For “Doomers” this weapon needs no introduction – With a single shot you can either take a multiple foes or deal devastating damage to single tougher foe. Brutal Doom takes the Shotgun and gives you weapon for both close-quarters and medium range skirmishes, depending on whether you fire from the hip or use the alternate function to take aim.
When playing Doom 2 you have addition of the Super Shotgun! This is a rather beastly dual barrel break-action shotgun intended for obliterating foes up close. Using the primary function, this beast fires both barrels dealing serious damage if not blowing foes to pieces. Otherwise, using the alternate function you can fire each barrel separately to blow two targets away in close succession. In short the SSG is a monster in close-quarters engagements!
Then there’s the Chaingun. It’s basically modern-day Gatling Gun, or a Minigun. This is a rather interesting weapon as the alternate function is almost becomes a necessity with this gun. Using the primary function will spin the barrels up and fire for as long as you hold it. Using the alternate will act as toggle to keep the barrels spinning allowing you to use primary to apply devastating bursts or just unleash a stream of hot lead at a moment’s notice. This nasty piece of work is your best bet for mowing down foes, a horde at a time.
The next heavy weapon is the Rocket Launcher! With no alternative weapon function, this bad boy simple fires off rockets that do one thing – Fly straight and blow up whatever they hit! Handle this one with care, because the explosive damage from those rockets will make short work of you if you stand too close! In other words, it’s heavy weapon best suited to dealing destruction from down range – Whether it’s making mincemeat of hordes with one rocket at a time or hammering the big tough ones.
Then there’s the Plasma Rifle. This bad boy is energy weapon that will reduce foes to smouldering pile of blood and ash. Best suited for “Hit ‘N’ Run” attacks on tough enemies at medium range – With the primary function it behaves like a typical assault rifle that fires rapid pulses of plasma, while the alternate fires a super-charged scattershot. One Drawback – The problem is when you stop firing between volleys, because the weapon takes a few seconds to cool down each time you do.
Then you have the BFG 9000! If you’re curious as to what BFG stands for… Just know that it’s big and fires a big ball of energy that can vaporize a hall full of bad guys! Having said that, it shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out. With a single weapon function this weapon chews through cells like nobody’s business and takes a few seconds to cool down between firing – This is a good option for clearing out hordes, but one you should be conservative with (especially if you tend to rely on the Plasma Rifle).
Then there’s every “Doomer’s” favourite melee weapon, the Chainsaw! Nothing does mincemeat quite like the chainsaw and it has it’s uses for procuring weapons from two Doom 2’s demons. With the primary function, hold down to simply rev up the chainsaw – This useful if you just want to run foes through (literally!). Otherwise with the alternate, holding down will swing the chainsaw side to side while revving up – Great from cutting through hordes or just lopping off heads.
The first of these weapons that you pilfer demons for, is the Twin Rocket Launcher from Revenants. This weapon is safe enough at medium range and will only fire with a target in your sights using only the primary function.
The other lootable weapon is the Flamethrower acquired from a Mancubus. Whether up close or from down range, this bad boy is great for setting foes alight and watching them run around on fire as they burn to a crisp. The primary function launches fireballs that torch targets from a distance, whilst the alternate unleashes fire torrents barbecuing foes dumb enough to stand at close range.
One of the most powerful weapons is the hand grenade. You start the game with one of these and you can only acquire these in ammo backpacks. As these are the most scarce weapon pickup, it would pay use sparingly and make each one count. One the plus side, their explosive damage gives the BFG’s destructive power a run for it’s money. You can either select them and toss them with primary function or their dedicated function, allowing you to throw them without selecting them.
BUT! You can also use your bare hands. Normally you can beat the crap out of lesser foes as well as deliver fiercely powerful hooks and uppercuts. But, when under the effects of demonic rage (from either picking up a Berserker Rage black first aid kit or Demonic Rune) – Using the primary function (normally for punching) you can execute “Fatalities” (graphical execution techniques, very much akin to Mortal Kombat) on the majority of demonic and undead foes. But, know that all enemies have their own individual “Fatalities” they can use on you as well as each other! Swings and Uppercuts (with the alternate) deliver devastating degrees of damage, allowing you to spatter foes with a single punch. You also have a dedicated function (like the grenade toss) for kicking – Normally this will either knock foes down or kill them. But under demonic rage, you tie it in with your punches and make like Chuck Norris on a demon horde! Hand to hand combat also allows you to perform stealth attacks on targets unaware of your presence, allowing you to conserve ammunition and gain a small foothold.
Remember, you’re on a level playing field – Brutal Doom embraces the original games and turns “Run ‘N’ Gun” into a game all about “The Quick & The Dead”!

Overall, Brutal Doom is an awesome mod that not only turns you classic Doom experience into bloody spectacle but introduces a richly satisfying challenge.

Final Thoughts

Okay, normally I don’t review mods or demos – But, this is one such exception!
For a mod to have me more interested in the original game rather than the latest iteration that developers are promoting, that’s saying something. I first played Brutal Doom with version 18 and the announcement of this version had so many hotly anticipated Triple A titles taking a backseat… For a mod designed for a twenty-year old game of all things!!!
If you’re looking to get the most out of Brutal Doom, play it on “Realism Mode”!

I’m not going to put my usual question as with all my reviews, but I will say this…

If you love Doom, Brutal Doom is absolutely worth going back into Classic Doom for!

Report Card

Quality: A
Gameplay: A
Content: B
Skill: B
Technical: A
Value: A
Audience: Adult

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